Looking at The Legend of Zelda in the 2021 might seem like a waste of time. But looking at something that seems, at first, very simple, can help us understand the fundamentals of game design. Here’s more from Gamasutra:
As it turns out, the dungeon layouts are very carefully planned and the flow is very cleverly executed…. The critical path is the shortest path through a level without using secrets, shortcuts, or cheats. Basically, it’s the path the designer intends the player to take through the level unless she gets really clever.
For each of the dungeons, the critical path is almost always linear. There are very few instances where the player is required to re-traverse ground she’s already seen. The only exception to the linearity rule tends to be two or three rooms at the beginning of the dungeons that allow you to choose between a small subset of rooms.
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