After reading the synopsis for >taur_, we were suitably intrigued. Sounding like a perfect combination of escape room-style puzzling and immersive theatre with the added threat of not making it out alive, we just had to book!
The show started with an actor explaining why we had been called upon – her father went missing after working on the secretive, titular MI5 project and wanted our assistance in uncovering the truth. After her briefing, we were split into teams and sent to our zone to crack the project’s computer systems before we were discovered.
The puzzles were, for the most part, fair and we made a steady, rewarding progress through the challenges. We were probably about a minute or two away from completing the game when it came to an end. This tells us that the difficulty was pitched pretty well – something that’s definitely impressive for a pop-up. They didn’t have the luxury that permanent escape attractions have, being able to make tweaks over time. They had to hit the ground running, something they succeeded at.
There was also a strong consideration for the story here, our progress revealed multiple handwritten notes that developed the plot, further enriching our experience. This culminated with a theatrical finale where we discovered what exactly Project Taur was – there was a cool body horror aspect to this scene which ended the event in a twisted fashion!
We really enjoyed >taur_ based on what was in front of us. However, it wasn’t really what the synopsis was selling, especially with the mention of choices affecting the experience. As the game was linear, there wasn’t even a choice of puzzle to work on so the mention of decisions led to disappointment. Although, as we mentioned, we didn’t complete the game (nor did any other team playing that night) so maybe we just didn’t get to that part of the show. We just weren’t expecting a straight-up escape room experience.
And whilst we totally respect that this was a five-day pop-up show, we didn’t get the impression that we were exploring an MI5 server farm. Everything felt a bit temporary and flimsy. Again, we think this is down to the fact that the synopsis was brilliantly written, painting a picture that we probably shouldn’t have expected from a pop-up event!
One thing that we want to mention here is that when the show concluded, we were addressed by one of the organisers who apologised for the experience, telling the audience that it wasn’t reflective of the quality of the company. Now, we’re none the wiser as to what this actually meant because we enjoyed our time playing and made it to what we assume was the final part of the game as there was nowhere else to go in the area. So it didn’t seem to us as though the game was broken. We reached out to BROKENSTEREO to try and get some understanding of what was potentially lacking but have yet to hear back. So, as it stands, we enjoyed our time in >taur_ but have this lingering doubt as to what we potentially missed.
Summary We had a good time at >taur_ but, with the abundance of escape rooms around (especially in London), it didn't do anything to stand out. If this ever returns, we'd like to see more of an emphasis on the theatrical elements as this was where >taur_ was at its strongest. Ticket Price: £6
>taur_ (2017) BROKENSTEREO
Address: THE VAULTS, Leake Street, SE1 7NN
We had a good time at >taur_ but, with the abundance of escape rooms around (especially in London), it didn't do anything to stand out. If this ever returns, we'd like to see more of an emphasis on the theatrical elements as this was where >taur_ was at its strongest.
Ticket Price: £6