Once of the best aspects of gaming is invading a dungeon. This usually involves battling monsters, stealing treasure, evading traps and surviving the harsh environment. The dungeon isn’t something new to video games, as they are a popular location used in tabletop games. They are even part of the title of Dungeons & Dragons, which should explain how central they are to the concept of the game.
Not all dungeons are created equally, however. For every action-filled adventure, there is a tedious and boring one. All of the challenging monsters have colleagues that are annoying as hell. The tense and scary atmosphere of one dungeon is balanced out by the mandatory stealth section of another.
We are here today to name and shame the worst dungeons in video game history. From the horde of Zubats to the Temple beneath the waves.
Here are the 15 Worst Video Game Dungeons Of All Time!
15. Pokémon Red & Blue – Mt. Moon
The first cave region in the original generation of Pokémon games is Mt. Moon. In order to get there, you need to defeat Brock and claim the Boulder Badge of the Pewter City Gym. Once this is accomplished, you will be allowed to enter the mountain. Up to this point in the game, there has been a clear distinction between the areas that contain wild Pokémon and those that don’t. The tall grass you see on the route between Pallet Town and Viridian city is an indication of where you will meet wild Pidgeys and Rattatas. This is also true for the grass in Viridian Forest.
When you enter Mt. Moon, you will quickly discover that every step within a cave region has the chance of triggering an encounter with a wild Pokémon. In Pokémon Red & Blue, you have a 75 to 79% chance of meeting a Zubat. You will quickly become familiar with Zubat, as Mt. Moon is a huge area, which is made up of several floors filled with items and enemies. And Zubats.
Along with the issue of their being too many Zubats, you also have the problem of fighting them. The Zubat’s will know two moves, Absorb and Supersonic. Absorb drains a tiny bit of health and Supersonic has a chance of inflicting the confuse status effect. This means you could be locked into a fight of attrition, where your Pokémon stands there hitting itself instead of running.
14. Final Fantasy XV – Zegnautus Keep
As Final Fantasy XV is still receiving story and gameplay updates as of the time of writing, we will refrain from any specific plot spoilers in this entry.
The 13th chapter of Final Fantasy XV is so terrible, the director of the game has promised to change it with later updates. So what is it about chapter 13 that warrants such alterations? While most of the game involves a party of four characters, chapter 13 is a solo mission. The character loses access to all of his weapons and must rely on a set of new magical abilities to defeat foes. The problem is, these spells take time to use and being hit by an enemy will stun you, meaning you have to start the casting process over. This means you have to flee as soon as you see an enemy and start casting, with the hope that the spell will fire before they get you.
If this unwelcome change to the combat system wasn’t bad enough, then how about some clumsily implemented stealth mechanics? Your two new powerful spells have to take a backseat for a while, as you hide around corners and inside small gaps, so you can avoid enemies.
13. Breath Of Fire III – The Desert Of Death
One of the worst things a video game can be is boring. This extends to a single boring segment of a game that is mostly fun. If a player finds a game to be tedious, then they will switch it off and never come back.
The Desert of Death from Breath of Fire III is one such segment. Breath of Fire III is an excellent RPG for the original PlayStation, that still holds up to this day. With that being said, the Desert is so bad that it kills any recommendation we could give for the game.
At one point during Breath of Fire III, the party must travel across a massive desert. This involves following the stars in the sky in a certain pattern (the instructions of which were partially mistranslated). In reality, this means you will be stuck staring at the back sprite of the main character for a long time as he traverses the desert, with only an occasional random battle to break up the monotony.
12. Diablo II – The Maggot Lair
Diablo II was one of the most popular RPGs of its day. The big attraction to the game was its online multiplayer. Players from all over the world could team up and take on the armies of Diablo together.
The enemies in Diablo II don’t have to be fought alone. Along with the other players, you can hire NPC warriors to join you in battle. Some of the characters, like the Necromancer and Druid, have the ability to summon other creatures into battle. All of these things become a problem once you reach the Maggot Lair dungeon in Act II.
While Diablo II has many dungeons, most of them have wide corridors that allow several characters to fight side by side. The Maggot Lair is made up of tunnels that force both the player and the enemy to fight single file. This means that the dungeon’s length is artificially extended, due to the constant small battles that make up its length. As the Maggot Lair was made up of insects, you can also expect to fight lots of enemies that possess status effect attacks.
11. EarthBound – Giant Step
EarthBound is a game that prioritised its characters, setting and story over its gameplay. If judged on its charm alone, then EarthBound cannot be beat. With that being said, the beginning of the game has some design problems that might turn off new players.
Throughout most of EarthBound, you control a boy named Ness. As the story progresses, he will add three more people to his party (Paula the psychic, Jeff the inventor and Poo the monk). It takes a while before you even meet the first of these other characters. This means that you will be controlling Ness alone for the first few areas of the game.
The first main dungeon of EarthBound is called Giant Step. It is here that the gameplay issues are most prominent. Ness will be fighting alone against groups of enemies. This means that he will be taking lots of damage each turn, while only have a single turn of his own to retaliate. Ness should have a PSI attack that harms groups of enemies at this point in the game, but he can only use this a few times before needing to rest. Ness can use physical attacks, but his accuracy is abysmal at the start of the game, meaning he will often miss when trying to strike.
EarthBound truly comes into its own once you gain a few levels and meet Paula. It is from that point on that the gameplay of EarthBound begins to match its excellent writing.
10. Dark Souls II – The Gutter
This spot almost went to Blighttown from the original Dark Souls. The Gutter from Dark Souls II is a better candidate, however, due it having all of the stuff that made Blighttown annoying and adding a few kicks to the groin of its own.
The Gutter can be found within a massive cave. It is constructed from many different wooden platforms and rope bridges, that span across a huge space. The cave is pitch black, meaning you will have to go around lighting torches if you want to see.
What makes The Gutter so annoying is the pitfalls. You have to fight on these tiny platforms and bridges, meaning that you cannot dodge in the same way that you normally would. If you move or roll too far in one direction, then it’s instant death. The Gutter is also littered with statues that fire poison arrows. These can be hard to see (due to the darkness), and before you know it, your health will be draining from the venom in your veins.
9. Dragon Age: Origins – The Deep Roads
One of the best things about Dragon Age: Origins are the segments of the game that happen in the Dwarven city of Orzammar. Should you choose one of the Dwarven origin options, you will get to see the city from the start of the game. To those familiar with the stereotypical portrayal of Dwarves in fantasy literature, the city of Orzammar will kick you straight out of your comfort zone. The Dwarves of Dragon Age are a mixture between the Klingon and the Drow. They use concepts of honour and loyalty as a pretence to cover up their Game of Thrones level of backstabbing and betrayal.
While Orzammar is awesome, the dungeons that surround it are not. Orzammar is connected to the Deep Roads. These are tunnels that used to be travel routes between Dwarven cities, which have since been taken over by the Darkspawn. The Deep Road dungeons are the most boring part of the game. This is due to the fact that they are massive and are made with reused assets. You will see the same caves over and over again, as you fight the same kinds of Darkspawn repeatedly.
8. Neverwinter Nights 2 – Vale of Merdelain
Neverwinter Nights 2 tried to adapt the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons into a video game. The developers did a good job of making the game feel like D&D. It’s just a shame that they didn’t bother to make the game actually work. Neverwinter Nights 2 was notorious for its bugs and shoddy interface at launch. It took several patches and expansions to sort everything out and to make it worth your time.
Throughout Neverwinter Nights 2, your party will need to make camp and rest. They need to do this in order for special abilities and spells to be refreshed. It is worth saving before you do this, as the game will occasionally throw some random monsters at you, that interrupt your rest.
When you reach the final dungeon of the Neverwinter Nights 2, you will face the most powerful enemies in the game. The Vale of Merdelain is filled with undead monsters that can drain levels with a touch. What makes this dungeon so annoying is that it is almost impossible to rest. If you try it, then you will be interrupted by a cadre of powerful undead monsters. As you will need to rest on a few occasions to complete the dungeon, you will be forced to save scum until you can finally sleep.
7. Dragon Quest VII – Alltrades Abbey
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past is a Nintendo 3DS remake of Dragon Warrior VII, which was originally released on the PlayStation. The game has an interesting character class system, where mastering certain professions will open up even more powerful jobs. The problem is, it takes a long time before you can reach the area of the game where you can start experimenting with this feature.
The location where you can start playing with the character class system is called Alltrades Abbey in the 3DS version of the game, and the Dharma Temple in the PlayStation original. You enter the Abbey, select a new class and wait for a whole new era of character customization to begin…
…Or not. It turns out that the Abbey has been taken over by demons and that you have been led into a trap. You are stuck in a prison town with no means of escape, outside of a lengthy story quest. This ends with you infiltrating the Abbey and fighting the monsters that have taken it over. The game teases you with something awesome and then dumps you into one of the worst segments of the game.
6. Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link – Death Mountain
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link used a different design from the previous game. While the original Zelda game used a top-down view of gameplay, Zelda II became a side-scroller. This change made the combat a lot more difficult. Link’s freedom of movement had become restricted, which made the game a lot harder than its predecessor.
Nowhere is Link more at a disadvantage than in Death Mountain. This dungeon is made up of several different areas that are linked with branching paths. These areas are filled with powerful monsters known as Dairas. Unlike the slime and bat monsters you have faced up to this point, the Dairas wield powerful axes that can kill Link in a few hits. You have to learn the patterns of these monsters if you have any hope of succeeding. It doesn’t help that you have to fight several of them, including elite versions that can throw their axes.
There are some later areas of the game that are more difficult than Death Mountain. The difference is, you are better equipped to deal with them, as you will have access to more items, techniques and magic. Death Mountain’s placement at the beginning of the game is the reason it is so reviled.
5. Dark Souls – Anor Londo
Any Dark Souls fan will tell you that the series is tough but fair. If that fan is particularly honest, they would also add “Except for Anor Londo”.
For the most part, Anor Londo is one of the best dungeons in the game. It is a huge castle that is filled with beautiful decor which is guarded by tough enemies. One of the hardest boss battles in the game takes place here. The battle against Dragon Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough is considered one of the most challenging and rewarding fights in the series.
So why is Anor Londo on this list? If you type “Anor Londo” into Google, the word “archers” is one of the first things that will come up in the search box. While traversing the exterior of the castle, you will need to run across a very thin stone bridge. At the far side of this bridge are two knights wielding greatbows. If you get hit by one of the arrows while running across the lengthy bridge, you will most likely be knocked off the side to your death. Once you reach the edge of the bridge, you then have to fight one of the knights on a tight ledge, while the other is firing arrows at you. It’s actually easy to knock the knight off the ledge. The problem is, it’s also very easy for you to be knocked off as well.
4. Final Fantasy Tactics – Riovanes Castle
Final Fantasy Tactics pulls one of the dirtiest tricks in gaming history. It involves a location known as Riovanes Castle, which has become infamous among Final Fantasy fans. If anyone asks for advice about the game, one of the first things they will hear is “Always make a backup save file before you enter Riovanes Castle!”
Riovanes Castle is one of the few locations in the game where you have to fight several battles consecutively, without the option to leave between them. What you can do is access the character menu and save your game. The first battle of Riovanes Castle is deceptively easy and first-time players might save their game after the battle without creating a backup…
The second battle of Riovanes Castle involves a unique fight, where the main character must face a knight named Wiegraf in single combat. If the protagonist is not built for physical combat, then he will get creamed every time. Should you manage to defeat Wiegraf, then you must face his powerful Lucavi form, as well his demonic minions.
Riovanes Castle tricks you into saving before throwing you into the hardest fight in the game. If you cannot win and don’t have a backup, then you will have to start over.
3. Chrono Trigger DS – The Lost Sanctum
Chrono Trigger for the Super Nintendo is a masterpiece. It tops many “best games of all time lists” and is well worth the accolade. If you love RPGs and haven’t played Chrono Trigger, then you need to rectify that fact as soon as possible.
When an updated port of Chrono Trigger was released for the Nintendo DS, the developers added some new segments to the game in order to attract older fans. These new elements are… not great. While the post-game dungeons and new ending are entertaining, the other stuff added to the game was terrible.
By far the worst addition to the DS port of Chrono Trigger is the Lost Sanctum. Once you gain access to the flying version of the Epoch, you will be able to enter two new time portals. These lead to a village of Reptites that have survived the extinction of their species. You need to do tasks for both sets of Reptites, which involves a dungeon that is filled with fetch quests and backtracking. The Lost Sanctum is so terrible that most players simply ignore it, as the rewards you get for doing the quests are outmatched by items you find elsewhere in the game.
2. Baldur’s Gate – The Nashkel Mines
The Baldur’s Gate series was an attempt at making a video game adaption of the 2nd edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. In this regard, the games are almost perfect. For players who aren’t familiar with that system, however, the games might not make much sense. Those who haven’t read the AD&D Player’s Handbook might be turned off by concepts like THAC0, a lower armour score meaning a better armour score and having to memorise spells before you can use them.
At the start of Baldur’s Gate, you are pressured to complete the first dungeon of the game as soon as possible. If you wait too long, then some of your party members will abandon you. You have to investigate an invasion of monsters within the Nashkel Mines.
The Nashkel Mines is one of the most unfair dungeons of all time. The mine is covered in a fog of war, meaning you won’t see enemies until you are close to them. Within this fog are groups of monsters known as Kobolds, that are equipped with bows and arrows. As soon as you get near them, the Kobolds will start firing at your party. If you have any Wizard or Thief party members, then they can easily be killed in one hit. You have to move very slowly through the mines and pray to the god of random numbers that you don’t get killed by a volley of arrows.
1. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time – The Water Temple
Do you want to know how bad the Water Temple is? The creator of the game publicly apologised for it. Eiji Aonuma is a living legend in the gaming industry, yet even he feels that the Water Temple from Ocarina of Time has diminished his reputation.
The reason the Water Temple is so reviled is due to how slow it is. Link is given a set of iron boots, which allows him to sink to the bottom of the water. Every time you do this, you need to open up a menu and select the boots. This process takes a few seconds each time you do this, and you will need to do it a lot. In order to access new parts of the dungeon, you need to raise and lower the water levels. This can only be done in certain locations. If you screw up the order in which you need to move the water, then you have to go back to those areas and do it again. The dungeon is made longer and slower due to how much time you waste having to mess around with menus and backtracking.
Most of the biggest changes to the 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time are related to the Water Temple. New coloured paths had been added to the game, which will lead the player to all of the locations where the water can be raised and lowered. The addition of the 3DS touchscreen also allows the player to change boots by tapping the bottom screen, without having to open up a menu.
While the Water Temple is loathsome, it does have the incredible boss battle against Dark Link. It goes to show that even the worst dungeon can have something positive about it.