Duke Nukem 3D: Death Row


(This is part of my journey going checking out Duke Nukem 3D. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

Captured by the pigs at the end of the last level, Duke is stripped of all his weapons and brought to a prison to be electrocuted. In fact, right as the level begins, I’m in the electric chair being fried — gotta move fast out of that! Not quite sure why Duke isn’t strapped down, but we’ll chalk that up to him being so powerful that he broke out of the restraints.


All hell breaks loose as Duke kicks the first guard to death and then picks up a shotgun to even the score. I like how there’s a nearby observation room, although the curtains were closed when you were being fried because… privacy? I guess? Don’t read too much into it, Syp.


There’s a chapel nearby with the encouraging instructions of “SILENCE. DISCIPLINE. REMORSE.” written at the entrance. I’m trying to figure out what these stainglass figures are supposed to be. The lizard troopers?


Here’s something I never knew existed: A dead monk, hanging from the rafters. Sure. Why not. Totally makes sense for death row to have a medieval monk hang himself in the chapel. Honestly, I’m reading too much into everything when the key design decisions back in the 90s were made by this: “Does it look cool? Wicked? Evil? Go for it!”


The team provided a bit of a nod to Doom in this level. You can click a button that turns the cross in the chapel upside down, activates red lights (to make it look hellish), and opens a passageway to “one DOOMED space marine” behind it. It’s all good natured fun, right?


Following that is a lot of very boring hallways and rooms (pretty dark, too). There are showers, just in case you were worried that this game wasn’t going to fully check off the “prison must-haves” list. It would’ve been hilarious to see the mobs actually taking showers, but no. Opportunity missed.


A little further in, I stumble upon this ugly looking hologram. Pucker up, sweetheart. You’re going to kiss the sky soon enough.

Breaking out of the prison is actually kind of ingenious. Remember Shawshank Redemption? So did the makers of this game. In one of the jail cells there’s a pinup on the wall hiding an excavated tunnel that leads down into the sewers, and then out to…


A nuclear submarine floating in a lake? pond? Nearby. Duke grabs some scuba gear and goes up into the sub from below, taking it for a ride to the next destination.

Great level on the whole, although sometimes it was far too dark for my taste. Nothing really makes sense in this game but once you get into the spirit of it, it’s a blast (pun intended).

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