The Legend of Zelda: Best Dungeons Ranked - VRGyani News and Media


Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Legend of Zelda: Best Dungeons Ranked

It’s been 35 years since The Legend of Zelda has been captivating fans with epic adventures where puzzle-solving is as important as combat skills to save the world from some nasty villains. No element represents best The Legend of Zelda’s mix between puzzle and combat than dungeons; labyrinths filled with traps and giant monsters that test both the player’s reflexes and perspicacity. We’ve already ranked the best boss of The Legend of Zelda, paid homage to the Gerudo King by ranking all Ganon battles in the franchise, and shared our traumas with The Legend of Zelda’s worst minigames. However, our trip to Hyrule wouldn’t be complete without revisiting the places that made us fall in love with the franchise: the dungeons.

Put some fairies in a bottle and get ready to solve some devious puzzles; we are going on a journey through the best dungeons of The Legend of Zelda. And just as with our previous lists, we’ll choose only a single dungeon per game to highlight how different franchise installments have built extraordinary challenges.

RELATED:‌ How 'Ocarina of Time' Defined 'The Legend of Zelda' Franchise for Two Decades

5. Hyrule Castle (Breath of the Wild)

While there are many positive innovations in Breath of the Wild, the game also takes away some fan-favorite elements. For starters, the puzzle and combat challenges of dungeons were broken down into smaller parts and split between 120 Shrines (136 if we take the DLCs into account). While the Divine Beasts take the place of the main temples, they all end up too quick to savor, even though they are pretty to look at and conceptually interesting. The bosses at the end of each Divine Beast are also lackluster, which doesn’t help them become memorable. Fortunately for Breath of the Wild, Hyrule Castle works as an unorthodox dungeon of its own, filled with secret paths, mighty foes, and hidden treasure.

Hyrule Castle doesn’t work as the usual dungeon, as the player can just run straight to Calamity Ganon and finish up the game instead of exploring it — but that’s what makes it such a fitting challenge to Breath of the Wild. While Breath of the Wild’s temples typically don’t add new tools to the player’s arsenal, it’s actually possible to grab the Hylian Shield on Hyrule Castle, which brings it closer to a classic temple. Also, you can explore so many different rooms that it’s possible to spend hours inside Hyrule Castle and still not discover every piece of treasure it hides. With a labyrinthian structure and a unique treasure, Hyrule Castle is Breath of the Wild’s best take on a dungeon that also incorporates the main game’s freedom of movement.

4. Forest Temple (Ocarina of Time)

Ocarina of Time might have the most remarkable collection of Legend of Zelda dungeons of all time. While part of the love can be attributed to nostalgia, since this was the franchise’s first 3D game and the first chapter many fans got to play, the exceptional design of puzzles and tools also justify our fond memories. Ocarina of Time created many of the tools that every 3D entry of the franchise would reuse. But most importantly, Ocarina of Time gave meaning to each dungeon, adding background elements that explained their bizarre structure and why they became such colossal challenges.

While there are many memorable dungeons in Ocarina of Time, the Forest Temple might best represent everything the franchise stands for. The Forest Temple introduces a new tool, the Bow, which is used both for combat and to solve puzzles. The dungeon also presents a unique mechanic that allows Link to twist and untwist the corridor, changing the orientation of some rooms. Finally, the Forest Temple reflects the decaying of a Ganon-ruled Hyrule by transforming an idyllic temple in the forest into crumbling, ghost-filled ruins. It has a thematic purpose, exciting challenges, and a great boss battle. It also helps the player to understand the adventure has only begun after taking out the Master Sword from the pedestal and traveling to the future. Add an ominous soundtrack, and Ocarina of Time’s Forest Temple becomes unforgettable.

3. Snowpeak Ruins (Twilight Princess)

Every Legend of Zelda dungeon is an abandoned place filled with monsters and traps. But what if one of these architectonic wonders was populated by creatures only looking for a place to live? The question seems so obvious that we wonder why Twilight Princess was the first game to ask it. Located at the top of a snowy mountain, Snowpeak Ruins is a dungeon that doubles down as the home of a friendly couple of Yeti, Yeto and Yeta. Shaped as a three-storied abandoned mansion, the Snowpeak Ruins has a couple of cozy rooms heated by the soup-making Yeto, while its backrooms are freezingly cold and filled with monsters.

Snowpeak Ruins adds a unique twist to The Legend of Zelda dungeon, as Link must navigate the trap-filled corridors while also crossing rooms that are inhabited by the furry couple; while every other temple is an abandoned dungeon, this one is a home filled with love. The Snowpeak Ruins also have their specific storyline, as Yeto’s wife, Yeta, became sick after being gifted a Shard of the Mirror of Twilight. Yeta turns out to be the final boss of Snowpeak Ruins, whom Link must take down in order to retrieve the Shard and lift away the curse that stops the Yeti couple from living a happy life in the mansion. Twilight Princess’ Snowpeak Ruins is one of the most peculiar dungeons in The Legend of Zelda history, and it’s a shame the franchise didn’t try to reuse the concept of an inhabited dungeon somewhere else.

RELATED:‌ Everything You Love About 'Breath of the Wild' First Arrived in 'Skyward Sword'

2. Sandship (Skyward Sword)

While the motion controls of Skyward Sword understandably drove many players away, the game has some of the best dungeons in the franchise (even if it has some pretty bad temples, too). The Ancient Cistern draws inspiration from Hindu mythology and has the player moving a room around to get to different parts of the dungeon. The Sky Temple goes beyond by allowing the player to reorganize the position of all its rooms. However, no Skyward Sword dungeon is as memorable as the Sandship, a mystical vessel navigating in a desert that was once a sea.

The central mechanic of the Sandship is time-shifting, as the player can hit a big jewel in the top of the ship’s mast to awaken the vessel from its slumber and reactivate its engines. While the same mechanic is presented in Lanayru Mining Facility, the Sandship uses the time-shifting crystals to transform the entire ship with a single hit instead of breaking down puzzles room by room. So, while in previous sections hitting a crystal can time-shift a small area around it, in the Sandship hitting the crystal transforms the entire dungeon. The result is visually impressive, while the level design of the Sandship also makes it one giant puzzle itself. Besides that, having a boss that breaks down the dungeon before the showdown is a stroke of genius that subverts players’ expectations, something that should always be praised in a long-running franchise with many repeating patterns.

1. Stone Tower Temple (Majora’s Mask)

Majora’s Mask time-loop was divisive, to put it mildly. However, the direct sequel to Ocarina of Time might have the best collection of temples in the entire franchise; while great temples are scattered in every installment of the franchise, every single dungeon of Majora’s Mask is amazing. The possibility to use different masks to assume the identity of other species diversifies the combat and puzzles in an unprecedented way, and no Legend of Zelda game after Majora’s Mask offered the same level of variation. The Woodfall Temple has you flying around as a Deku, the Snowhead Temple lets you use the might of the Goron to take down pillars, and the Great Bay Temple is a giant water-pumping machine that demands you to master your Zora powers. Every single temple is brilliant on its own, but the Stone Tower Temple comes ahead by an inch.

Before you go to the moon to face Majora’s Mask, the last temple puts every tool in the game to good use, meaning the puzzles are more complex and engaging than in previous temples. However, what makes the Stone Tower Temple so unique is the fact that you can turn the entire dungeon upside down — literally. To complete the temple, the player needs to turn the dungeon around several times, paying close attention to how the geography changes depending on which side of the temple is the floor and the ceiling. The cherry on top is a cinematic boss battle in which Link turns into a giant to fight a couple of sand insects. Solving the Stone Tower Temple makes you feel smart, and the first time you turn it upside down is so thrilling that it deservingly grabs the first position on this humble list.

KEEP‌ ‌READING:‌ By Making a Mature ‘Zelda’ Game, ‘Twilight Princess’ Sucked the Fun Out of the Franchise

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