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The first thing you need to know about Robert Haddy's Outta Time Excape Rooms on Charleston's East End is that your experience begins the moment you open the door. You'll be greeted by a mad scientist of sorts - and don't expect him to leave his character behind.

To even play the game, you and your family and friends will have to solve a series of puzzles Haddy himself has designed and built, based on years - decades, actually - of experience in designing some of the most noteworthy sets in the world of movies and theater. He doesn't want the tricks and traps to be obvious.

"It's important to me that the room be a room and that all the games are hidden seamlessly within the design elements of the room," said Haddy, the mastermind behind it all.

He has one escape room that's open to the public now, called the Edgar Allen Poe room.

"The plot is that Mr. Poe died while he was working on his last manuscript, but no one ever found it. And it's never been published. So we have it on very high authority and our researchers have tracked it to this writing study, and if you can find it and bring it into the future for us, then we can preserve it for all posterity," he said.

There are massive gears that creak and turn overhead, apparently on their own. There is fog that seems to come from nowhere. And - let's just say this isn't your cookie-cutter escape room. You won't find another one like it anywhere in the world. At least not yet, though Haddy would eventually like to change that, mass producing the game pieces in his studio and franchising the experience.

For now, he's focused on his first room, with a second one in the works.

Outta Time Excape Rooms is located at 1422 Washington St. E. For more information, call 681-265-3714, visit outta or email Reservations are required.