Best Designed Areas in Dark Souls 1

Despite the fact that there is already a list about the quality of areas in this game, my list is going to focus solely on the actual design and atmosphere of the area rather than the aesthetics. I want to make this list because of how much of a different opinion someone could have of an area depending on how it looks.
The Top Ten
1 Painted World of Ariamis

Despite the area's relatively small size, the amount of hidden stuff all the way through makes this such an amazing area. As well as this, the enemies are great and the underground tunnels are the one time that bonewheel skeletons aren't the worst thing ever.

2 Anor Londo

Beautiful scenery. Amazing atmosphere - it really feels like you're walking through a civilization at its peak before the fall, with great attention to detail and lots to explore. Name me a better contraption in the game than the spiral elevator that takes you through multiple levels as you unlock them. You can't.

There is a great variety in enemy design and a fun challenge - there's something here to keep anyone, regardless of playstyle, on their toes. Nothing here feels cheap or annoying except the infamous knight archer section, which I admit is BS. It's a very short segment, though, and it doesn't take away from the rest of the area.

Plus, it houses some of the coolest NPCs in the game: the giant Blacksmith, Gwynevere, and of course, the pièce de résistance: the dynamic duo, Ornstein and Smough, poster boys of the franchise, as memorable as they are intensely challenging.

3 Sen's Fortress

I love the originality of this area, and I feel as if it has never been replicated since. The trap-filled funhouse is where the game tells you that you are about to enter a whole new level of hell as you get destroyed by absolutely everything.

4 The Duke's Archives

I love this area for how unique it is. For starters, the enemies are well-designed both aesthetically and in terms of actual combat. As well as this, the moving stairs are an extremely fun mechanic that I'm happy FromSoftware expanded on in Bloodborne.

My favorite part, however, is the death to Seath causing you to warp to another bonfire. When this happened for the first time, I was stunned. The prison area is also really cool.

5 Blighttown

While a lot of people hate this area, I think that the atmosphere and the oppressive nature of this place are what Dark Souls is about. I love the upper half of Blighttown for its unique maze-like structure and its multiple optional pathways. The bottom half is also the best place in the game for grinding large titanite.

6 Oolacile Township

I simply find this area to be extremely fun. The multiple hidden pathways work perfectly with the setting of the area. The enemies are interesting, and the fact that you can use an element of stealth to get past a particular part makes it all the more interesting.

7 Undead Burg

It's a great starting area as it has a combination of weak enemies and optional powerful ones, which give you extra rewards, teaching a new player to pick their fights very carefully.

Oh, the memories of grinding, hours and hours...

8 Undead Parish

A fair bit of this area is used to set you up for the gargoyle fight, which I find to be clever, as it rewards exploration and makes the area rewarding to go through, even if it is to help against an easy boss.

I love how it ties in greatly with the Burg. It has always looked pretty cool too.

9 The Catacombs

There are a few reasons why I love this area. The biggest one is its cliff faces leading straight down to the boss, which is interesting and a great way for people not to be angry if they hate the area, as they can just skip it. I also find the mad dash to try killing the necromancers to be hilarious every time.

10 New Londo Ruins

I love how creepy this place is. The atmosphere is amazing and the brutal difficulty of the game really shines here. I really like the designs of the darkwraiths and think that they are great adversaries. Also, the draining of the water is awesome and I love how it opens up the area so much more.

The Contenders
11 Kiln of the First Flame

This place is the crown jewel of traditional Dark Souls design. It fully utilizes the strategic, slow one-on-one combat that is so satisfying and challenging. No hordes and no cheap ambushes. The atmosphere it holds is absolutely flawless once you understand the lore. It's a depressive, ash-ridden ruin ending with the confrontation with the Lord of Cinder, who sacrificed himself to keep the flame lit until he became but an almost hollow husk of his former self.

12 Lost Izalith
13 Ash Lake
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