The Tape Escape – Yesterday’s Heroes [Review]

“Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey”– Doctor Who

Location:  Toronto, ON

Date Played: July 12, 2019

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 CAD per player plus applicable taxes and fees

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock 

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints 

REA Reaction

Yesterday’s Heroes was a lesson in the difficulty of writing time travel plots. It was the second show we experienced at Outside The March’s The Tape Escape, currently showing in Toronto. You can find our thoughts on the first show we watched and what we thought of The Tape Escape in general in our review of Love Without Late Fees.

A person reaching up for a movie on the shelf of a video store.
Photo by Neil Silcox

For us, Yesterday’s Heroes was the weaker entry. While we enjoyed the narratives and nostalgia, some aspects of the puzzle design and game flow left us wanting more.

Who is this for?

  • Theatre lovers
  • 90’s kids and 90’s kids at heart
  • Escape enthusiasts who want something different
  • Movie buffs

Why play?

  • Natural set
  • Immersive 90’s atmosphere

Story

We had been mysteriously whisked back to the year 1999 to join a bewildered video store employee in deciphering an odd message appearing on an employee training video. What did the message mean? Who had sent it? And why had we been hurtled back in time?

Promotional art, a tape over a person's eyes like glasses, the tape unravelling overhead like hair.

Setting

The Tape Escape took place in a restored video rental store. You can see our review of Love Without Late Fees for our full thoughts.

Gameplay

Yesterday’s Heroes was a narrative-driven escape room with an easy to moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay was unusual for an escape room. Puzzles were individually timed, with the gamemaster heavily hinting the answer once the timer was up (usually between 2 and 5 minutes). Solving a puzzle allowed players to view the next “cutscene” of the show. This involved watching a short video piece that revealed a clue to the next puzzle.

A person reaching into a display case with movie boxes and pez dispensers that correspond to the characters featured on those boxes.
Photo by Neil Silcox

Analysis

➕/➖ Puzzles were a mixed bag. A couple were fun, but others were vague and poorly clued. The final puzzle was difficult in an unfair way.

➖ At least two puzzles relied heavily on outside knowledge to complete. The gamemaster was there to help, so it was not a huge issue, but it might be frustrating for anyone expecting Yesterday Heroes to follow escape room norms.

➕ There was one particular prop in the store that was impressive. Such a small prop had such a big impact on the experience. Kudos to the designer on that build.

➕/➖ I appreciated that our gamemaster added a character element to his role, something I felt complemented the story-focused nature of the show. It also helped that his character was entertaining. His instructions, however, were not always entirely clear due to his choice to deliver them in character.

➖ The timed puzzles and linear story made the show feel rushed. The pacing meant we were unable to become fully immersed in the show.

➖ The narrative was difficult to grasp. The choice to deliver the story in a more metaphorical fashion resulted in a lack of connection with actual characters, who were only introduced toward the end. We enjoyed the ideas presented, but the execution simply was not there for us.

➕/➖ There was a neat attempt to tie players into the story, but it also resulted in a giant plot hole (for those who were paying attention to the plot). Take note: time travel stories are difficult.

Tips For Visiting

  • Transit: The venue is very close to the Bathurst subway station. Avoid the hell that is parking in downtown Toronto and take the subway instead.
  • Food: There are a lot of restaurants in the area to take advantage of. We recommend chimney cones at Eva’s Original Chimneys!
  • Accessibility: This venue is not wheelchair accessible.
  • Washrooms: The venue does not have washrooms. The nearby coffee shop agreed to allow players to use their washrooms, but if you are short for time, consider going further in advance.

Book your hour with The Tape Escape’s Yesterday’s Heroes, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: The Tape Escape comped our tickets for this game.

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