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What is the single, best designed level in any game?

Come On Tars

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Oct 22, 2018
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Sapienza
I love Sap but the underground virus requirment gets old on replays.
 

Reizo Ryuu

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Jan 12, 2014
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MHW ancient forest


It has so many hidden spots and vertical exploration and ways to get around.
 
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MacReady13

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Jun 22, 2018
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The entirety of Resident Evil 4 is masterful. It was scary. Tense. Beautiful to look at and perfect to play. A real game changer on the Gamecube and I loved every minute of it. Every area is memorable. The opening area is amazingly well designed and paced perfectly. The castle ramps up the difficulty and complexity of the design. In particular there is an area of the castle where you have a massive room flanked by enemies on the ground and enemies shooting you with cross bows from the balcony. You have stairs that lead to an underground room and then upstairs you need to get Ashley to crank the levers so as to raise the ground to get over the water whilst enemies are trying to not only kill her but also you as well! Brilliant and tense all the way through.
It all ends on an island with fantastic outside areas and well designed inside areas with you surrounded by enemies, especially scary with Regenerators around many corners!

Take your pick of basically ANY level in Super Mario World. Game is, in my opinion, the best designed 2D platformer of all time. And I do love Super Mario Bros 3 but World beats it.

Recently replaying the 3D Mario games on Switch reminded me how brilliant Mario Galaxy is. Almost perfect 3D design for a platformer.

1st and 2nd level of Goldeneye are seared into my brain.

Mega Man 3 was always my fav Mega Man game, so it's really hard to choose a particular level, but I'd say maybe Snake Man's level, which had incredible music as well, as my stand out.

Doom is brilliant. Best 1st person shooter ever made. Best designed levels as well. Perfect.

Doom 64 is underrated and has amazing level design as well. Plus that fucking music!!!!!

Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night. Pick ANY area of the castle you like. Even the inverted castle. All of it is masterfully designed.

Metroid Prime and Super Metroid. Perfection. So hard to pick a particular area in both of these games...

The mansion in Resident Evil.

The school in Silent Hill.

I'm sure there are MANY I've forgotten but I'll leave it at that for now!
 

MacReady13

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Jun 22, 2018
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Just played it over christmas. The version that came with Doom Eternal.

For such an old game i had alot of fun with it.
It is so well designed. The levels are a marvel to behold and considering it was on an N64 cart, it's amazing what they squeezed out of those things!
 
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Quasicat

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Aug 8, 2019
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Probably nostalgia but I loved this level, simple but memorable.

I remember seeing an island off in the distance on the Dam in Goldeneye 64 and tried like crazy to figure out how to get there. Apparently, it’s content was cut and they left the island there. Now you can go there, but only if you cheat.

 
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I'm playing through the original DOOM (again) and it reminded me, how well designed some of the maps are.

The second map (e1m2 - Nuclear Plant) and third (e1m3 - Toxic Refinery) are so good, i never get tired going through them. Even though i enjoy e1m3 a bit more because of the music, i'm going to give it to e1m2 because of the big yard and the optional labyrinthine area inside the plant. I remember back in the day looking through the windows and wondering if i can ever get to explore outside. When i finally did it it was an amazing feeling, i felt like i broke the code or something. Though Toxic Refinery also has a secret exit. Man, it's hard to pick.

Such good level design... Many games like this had great designs that were a joy to explore and solve. Duke Nukem 3D and Quake 1 also had many great levels.

I miss this kind of gameplay/design. DOOM 2016 and Eternal tried a bit to emulate this but i don't think they come close.
De_dust2
 

Rex_DX

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Jan 8, 2016
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Came here to post E1:M1 nkarafo nkarafo - well done. I didn't expect it to basically be the OP.

Really the whole of Knee Deep In The Dead.

Dark Souls from the start to about Sen's Fortress is worth a mention. Bloodborne's first couple areas, too.

OG Luigi's Mansion mansion if that counts as a "level."

Deepnest from Hollow Knight is nicely designed.

But yeah OG DOOM is my vote easily.
 

Kruza

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Jun 7, 2004
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I may be showing my age with my choices, but oh well.

There are two games that still stand out to me when it comes to recognizing outstanding level design.

The last stage in the original arcade version of Strider. Wow... this level still blows my mind when I see it after all these years. In fact, the overall level designs for this game is still magnificent in my opinion.

Also, the level in Shinobi 3 where you're jumping on falling rocks is amazing to me. The oil refinery stage in this game also deserves mention.
 
Dec 13, 2020
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It’s hard to beat SMB 1-1 as a tutorial, but my personal favorite would be 1-3 in Demons Souls. I just love the way it wraps around such a small area.
 

Men_in_Boxes

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May 31, 2020
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Vertigo Plaza

(Come on brothers, there's like three of us here that understand the profundity of the mighty VP)
 
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darth.shrimp

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Dec 1, 2019
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The second year in Grim Fandango.
Yes, all of it. It's just one huge set of interconnected areas where every person, every place, everything is important in the overall puzzle, this entire part is a master class in point and click.
 
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BadBurger

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Nov 6, 2019
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I'll go with the major car chase scene in Uncharted 4. I didn't have any issue following it, and it felt like I was controlling an action movie. Cool as hell.
 

Sub_Level

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School 2 in THPS2 comes to mind.

I remember freeskating that level for hours in middle school with the realism cheat turned on. Back then it was the equivalent of playing Skate.

Can the Spencer Mansion of the original RE be considered a level? I frigging love the layout of that game. Same with the police station in RE2. Peak game design as far as I'm concerned.

Edit-

Some of the dungeons in Skyward Sword are magnificent. The Lanayru Mine dungeon is so insanely good.
 

Ikutachi

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Aug 20, 2019
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SMB 1-1. It teaches you everything about the game in a few short screens.
Nah. Later on there's swimming, trampoline use, and the area looping if you take a wrong path in a castle level. Running is optional to do in 1-1 that will be important to do later. Then there are surprises not found in 1-1 like a beanstalk taking you to a coin heaven or warp zone.
 

Josemayuste

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Dec 9, 2020
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PREY (2017) All of Talos I space station

Outer Wilds All of it

Such a shame that these two games never got the commercial succes and public acclaim that they deserved..

Both of them are the pinnacle of game design, go play them now if you haven't already.
 

CitizenZ

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Jan 14, 2021
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No dev has made me replay sections more than Arkane just to see what if i do this? I said in my Dishonored review The Royal Physician level should be taught as a master class in design. No one does it better, no one and this was before D2 and Prey.
 

Gunslinger

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Sep 29, 2014
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While some areas are incomplete i would still say dark souls 1. The entire game is one long level. Masterpiece of level design.
 

JimmyRustler

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I'd say the Town and Castle Section of RE4 are near bloody perfect in terms of design and pacing. Every room feels different and throws something new at you.
 

captainraincoat

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Nov 15, 2010
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i would say the level on Titanfall 2 but i honestly think the best level of all time would be the map de_dust on the original counterstrike
this map was balanced and timed perfectly for attackers and defenders

 
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rofif

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Sep 13, 2019
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Tower of Latria
Dead Space's ship
latria ?! REALLY ?!
I just finished demons souls yesterday.
1st level of latria is one of the worst levels I've ever played. Corridors after corridors and corridors... the 2nd level with spires and platforms is much better though.
 

Moonjt9

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Oct 2, 2019
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I think the cathedral of the deep in dark souls 3 is the absolute pinnacle of modern level design, especially for soulslikes. The way everything wraps back around is pure bliss.
 
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