“The Lowest and Vilest Alleys”: A Mobile Game Influenced by “The Valley of Fear”

During the lockdown, your Gazetteer has played a lot of escape-the-room games on an iPad. These are basically what it says on the tin: The player is trapped somewhere and must solve puzzles and/or find objects in order to escape.

One day I downloaded a game called Alleys, which locks you inside a theme-park reconstruction of an English coal-mining town where, you soon learn, something mysterious and terrible once occurred. In addition to the usual tasks of the genre, you gradually discover pieces of the backstory as you play. It’s not a great game, but it is diverting and challenging without being too difficult, and the graphics are impressive. It was created by Shi-Chi Shen of Taiwan and is quite the accomplishment for a solo programmer.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that this English town was located in the Vermissa Valley, and the villains were called The Scowrers. Shen must be a devoted fan of the Master, because scattered throughout the game are Sherlockian references, and not just to The Valley of Fear. For example:

Hmm, those names sound familiar …. But who is Dan Raines?

There are some clues that were left by someone described as a Pinkerton detective, but when you find them, these are the notes that accompany them:

Do not be misled: This is not a Sherlock Holmes game, and the storyline will win no awards, but I had fun both solving the puzzles and keeping an eye out for Canonical references.

Yes, Mycroft, we truly do hear of Sherlock everywhere.