- Played July 2019
- 60 minutes
- 5 max
- What People Say
Great Scott! It’s time to jump into your flux capacitor-jigged DeLorean and travel back to 1999 for a nostalgic 90’s experience like nothing else. If you fully understand this reference then chances are you are going to do really well at the “escape room” called Yesterday’s Heroes by Outside the March at their Tape Escape location. They are the newest company in Toronto (conveniently located right on the Bloor subway line) to take a stab at the ever expanding escape room culture. Outside the March is traditionally an interactive theatre company and this is their first attempt at merging drama with puzzles and gameplay that have strong correlations to a traditional escape room.
The moment you walk into the location you are brought back to days of having to go to the store to rent a movie on VHS (Millennials, ask your parents about that one). Nothing but feel-good 90’s tunes are playing and their excited staff add to the playful atmosphere. They have done a great job of utilizing the entire space, they even use the lobby area for game play. Our team arrived early and actually walked in on an introduction video that was being played for another group; we were asked to come back in half an hour to free up some space. It was a beautiful summer evening so we didn’t mind but it did cross our minds that we would not have been so forgiving if it was inclement weather or the dead of winter. There was no designated space for personal belongings, which again was fine since we didn’t have heavy jackets or boots to deal with, but could be an issue in the colder months. Also, make sure to go to the washroom before you head there as there are none on site – you would need to go to one of the local restaurants if you needed to use the facilities. All these things aside we thoroughly enjoyed what the lobby had to offer including adorable five minute musical interludes that will warm your heart and leave you smiling.
Out of the three experiences The Tape Escape offers, Yesterday’s Heroes moves you around every last corner of the cleverly designed space. As a team, we needed to dig into the past to figure out why there was a mysterious whispering voice within the walls of The Tape Escape. We went on an adventurous mission that took us all over the video rental store, including it’s enigmatic underbelly where we had to try and unlock the future. There was a ‘wear and tear’ look to everything in the space but we found it went perfectly with the theme of a locally owned movie rental shop. Our team noted that there were some potential safety issues that could be improved on like exposed wires and cheaper build quality in some areas. There were some technical aspects to the game and all of them worked with no real issues. There is a game master that guides you along the entire time so if you ever run into any technical problems they are on standby for troubleshooting. *Spoiler alert* if you have any issues with claustrophobia or if you are over six feet tall this experience might not be for you – or you’ll have to be okay with being in a compact room with low ceilings. There are videos that we watched to tell us about our mission and to build the storyline; however, there seemed to be a disconnect between the storyline and the actual movies that were selected to be part of the puzzles. This was probably made worse by the videos being drawn out a bit longer than they needed to be… it would have been great to have more simplified videos that had a consistent theme with the movies and maybe make the puzzles more challenging.
On the subject of the puzzles, we found them to be quite standard – nothing outside of the box, although the experience was more task driven then actual tactile puzzles. This is where the quotation marks around “escape room” at the beginning of this review come in – after experiencing The Tape Escape, the ERA team all agreed that it had elements of an escape room but that it doesn’t fulfill the standard requirements to be classified as a traditional escape room. If you visit the Outside the March website they even describe the experiences as ‘puzzle-infused scavenger hunts through an art installation’; it’s an accurate description, so as long as you understand that going into the experience we think you will enjoy yourself. Another suggestion: if you decide to try out Yesterday’s Heroes, we recommend bringing along your biggest movie buff friend to handle the puzzles that quote some classic films.
Now it brings us to the final conclusion, did the ERA team enjoy this experience? Once our team sat down to hash out all our scores and feedback, it was really interesting to hear the mixed reviews of this experience. On one hand we had team members who enjoyed it immensely (guilty), and on the other some who thought it was an average experience that needed some fine tuning. I thoroughly enjoyed myself from the moment I walked in the door; other ERA members didn’t have as much fun because of difficulty getting past the potential safety issues discussed above. All this aside we did agree that Outside the March has obviously put their blood, sweat and tears into this project (2+ years to be exact), and they have assembled a one of a kind experience, so kudos to them. A nice added touch is that once you are done your experience you are given a Tape Escape punch card – if you end up doing all three ‘in store rentals’ you will unlock their membership perks. This is a great incentive to come back and try them all, which I’m sure we will do!