The invitation arrived ominously, like 2016's version of a telegraphed summons to some distant relation's secluded estate for the reading of a will.

"So ... how would you all feel about spending an afternoon trying to escape a locked-up Jazz Parlor?" the group text read.

"Skeptical," my friend Adam Vizier replied.

Escape rooms — live-action, timed puzzle games in which players search for clues in order to find their way out of a locked room — have grown in popularity during the past decade. There are at least three in New Orleans, and we aimed to crack the newest room in the attraction called Escape My Room.

Located down an unassuming alleyway at 633 Constance St., the plain exterior of Escape My Room belies the intricate and quirky decor inside.

Any skepticism was checked at the door as our mystery team was immediately intrigued by everything — up to and including a taxidermied rooster with the head of an alligator.

The waiting room alone contained more interesting curios than we could review in the allotted hour.

Nathanial, our assiduous guide to the DeLaporte Manor, arrived to whisk us away into another time and place with an energetic explanation of the rules and plot of the Jazz Parlor. We were even offered costumes.

"Unfortunately, there's been a murder. ... Yes, I know ... another one," announced Nathanial.

Nathanial explained that we would enter the Jazz Parlor to follow up on a police investigation and see what further information could be found. We were to search for information on the deceased's missing wife and lost murder weapon.

The task sounded simple, but with our backs to a locked door and confronted with the disarray of the crime scene, our careful survey swiftly turned into a mad rush of fun. The gang split up, darting from corner to corner on the hunt for clues.

The room is best attempted with a group, and having multiple eyes sped up the process considerably, allowing us to enjoy more of the narrative outside of simply escaping. It also helped that we each had different specialties.

Our photographer, Sophie Germer, used her keen eye to detect clues, while others pored over written notes or wrestled with cryptic ciphers. Nathanial was on call to provide hints from a tiny television screen when we were stumped.

"I liked that there was so much to find, because it meant we got to spend the whole hour looking for new discoveries," said John Lavender, another escapee.

Said Adam: "It was especially cool that Nathanial walked us through the room afterwards to show us what we missed. The walkthrough offered perspective on the whole puzzle so we knew how we did and how much of the story we uncovered."

The Jazz Parlor opened in May, the second room created by the Escape My Room team. It expands on the story developed in the first room, the Mardi Gras Study, which premiered in June 2015. A duplicate Jazz Parlor is planned for early fall, allowing for the possibility of two groups racing each other to escape their respective rooms.

"We wanted to have a narrative that was running through all of the rooms we create," explained Andrew Preble, the owner and mastermind behind the experience. He believes the interconnected story is one way that Escape My Room stands out.

"Around 80 percent of guests have never done an escape room before, and many come back the same day," said Preble.

Worry about feeling trapped? Don’t. The rooms have a panic button for those who need to leave early.

There’s a mailing list so enthusiasts can stay informed about new rooms, such as an inventor's laboratory-themed room that Preble expects to release before the end of the year.

Though the puzzles have been painstakingly crafted with countless touchstones of local culture, the rooms themselves can only offer so much history in the one-hour time limit. Preble hopes visitors will escape with a heightened love of investigation.

"The rooms can act as teasers for history," Preble said. "Guests remember interesting bits of information they encountered in the rooms and go home to look up the topics that intrigued them, carrying the experience back home."