Lock and Key Dungeons

Lock and key dungeons are, well, video game levels with locks preventing progress, and collectable keys that let you proceed.

The concept is a lot broader than it sounds. Locks/keys aren’t necessary physical objects, but anything that works in a similar way, which can often be quite abstract.

In Metroid 1, you cannot exit through the hole at the right (the lock) until collecting the morphball upgrade (the key)

Once you are familiar with the pattern, you begin spotting it everywhere. It’s most prominent in puzzle games and metroidvanias, but it’s applicable to any game which has an authored progression path.

In this article, we’ll look at lock and key dungeons, then how to analyse and design them.

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