Ken's Labyrinth

aka: LAB3D/SDL, Walken
DOS Specs [ all ]
Buy on DOS
Buy on Windows

Description official descriptions

Ken's Labyrinth is a first-person 3D shooter. The protagonist has to escape from an underground labyrinth populated by monsters while trying to rescue his dog Sparky. The game plays similarly to Wolfenstein 3D and involves the protagonist traversing colorful maze-like areas, shooting monsters on the way with exotic weapons such as a bubble-gum gun. The game's stand-out feature are interactive elements: there are vending and slot machines in the stages which the player can interact with, as well as breakable walls.

Groups +



Credits (DOS version)

10 People (4 developers, 6 thanks)

Level / Scenario Design
Board Maps
Sound Effects
Graphics / Artwork
Special Thanks to
  • Alan
  • Mahesh
  • Joe
  • Cliff
  • Tim
  • Mark
Acting / Voiceovers



Average score: 53% (based on 5 ratings)


Average score: 2.5 out of 5 (based on 40 ratings with 8 reviews)

A true classic.

The Good
I know that a lot of people call this crap, but they don't realize that this game has been done by a 12-year old in 1992! Back then, it sure wasn't easy to make such games! The creator, Ken Silverman (of BUILD fame), had to figure out each aspect of 3D-game programming by HIMSELF! Can you really believe this engine actually blew me away?!

He also did fantastic MUSIC, very emotional... It will be in your mind for a few hours, after you've played this...

The Bad
It is waaaaaay too hard, even on easy mode! Also, the game has a really sad atmosphere, it even nearly got me crying.

The Bottom Line
You should check it out, it's definitely history! The first Wolf3D clone ever, programmed by a 12-year old... This is actually the very engine that would turn into BUILD some years after, and would become the base of great games such as Duke Nukem 3D and Blood! Oh, and you'll probably need some DOSBox or something if you want to hear the sound properly.

NOTE: As no-one has noted this before, I'll take the honors... This game is actually freeware, now. Ken has released it with permission of Epic back in 1999! Download this game at Good luck with it! Pure enjoyment guaranteed!

DOS · by PimPamPet (91) · 2003

A classic.

The Good
This game was a great feat in it's day. Other people who review this game often give it bad ratings, but that proves them to not understand that this game was soley made by one person! When you take into account this game was homemade on Ken's 386 when he was 12, all those other people who gave it sucky reviews couldn't come close. Anyway, Ken Silverman's name has become as common-place as Cliff Blesinski, John Romero, and John Carmack. Just kidding. The vending machines were cool. The engine runs smooth. And the music will program itself in your head for the rest of your life if you play this game. Cheesy music, yes, but it's awesome!

The Bad
The first level has some annoying secret wall with jelly on it that you can't get past. You never seem to get rich enough to buy the missiles from the vending machine. Ken likes to consider himself like David Bowie in Labyrinth, becuase when you throw stuff at his pictures, it hurts you.

The Bottom Line
This is a true home-brewed classic that must be played to be understood. Before you label it, try programming one like it when you're 12.

DOS · by Doug Brozek (6) · 2001

Rather engine-demo than a game.

The Good
It has some interesting features, like standing high and low or buying apples and weapons. You can get money by collecting it or... playing slot machine.You can also drink water from tap, just like in Duke Nukem 3D to heal yourself. You will face many different enemies during gameplay, such as spider, bees and aliens. This game is suitable for children, because unlike other shooters, this game doesn't contain blood or gibbing.

The Bad
Every FPS similar to Wolfenstein 3D or Ken's Labyrinth gets boring very quickly. You've got to get through enormous labyrinth and keep pressed spacebar to find secrets. Oh, and destroy some enemies. In later shooters, such as Doom levels are much more complicated and enjoyable. But here, in Ken's Labyrinth, almost every level is in the beginning boring, and later frustrating. Graphics aren't amazing - like in Wolfenstein 3D, there aren't floor and ceiling textures. But some textures are just stupid - Mr. Silverman's head and "GO THROUGH THIS WALL" text? Sound effects aren't very spectacular, just one guy is saying "ouch!" and "boom!". And music... there are no words to describe it. Oh, I'm sorry, there is one: "crap".

The Bottom Line
This game looks like demo of some 3D engine. If you're under 7 years old, and you really want to play FPS, you may try playing it, but probably you'd get bored after 15 minutes. If you're over 7 years old, don't bother. Go and get Wolfenstein 3D.

DOS · by Sir Gofermajster (485) · 2008

[ View all 8 player reviews ]



From Ken Silverman's page for the game:

Now here's something any true fan would appreciate. Epic Megagames shipped a small black hint manual with the full version of Ken's Labyrinth. In November 1999, I released the full version as freeware (see top of this page). As a bonus, I thought it would be cool to include the text of the hint manual. Andy Cotter wrote the original hint manual. Epic then edited it and spiced it up. On my website, I released the ORIGINAL unedited text written by Andy Cotter. In his original description to Episode 3, Level 8, there were a few extra lines:

"By the way, if you find a globe, save the game in front of it and ship the saved game off to us to win a prize (don't bother to if you used any cheat keys, we have ways of finding that out).'

I"'m glad Epic removed this since I never had any prize planned. In fact, I had completely forgotten about it. I'm sure if this made it into Epic's hint manual, I would have remembered! Instead, it quietly slipped out in 1999. For the curious, the globe is still there on Episode 3, Level 8 (Map 28).

"You could imagine my surprise when a fan by the name of Travis Rezka sent me his saved game on April 12, 2003 to claim his prize. At first, I had no idea what he was talking about - afterall, this was 10 years later! Because Travis was the first person to find the globe and point it out to me, he gets to have his name forever listed here on the official Ken's Labyrinth page. Yes folks, that's his prize. :) Nice job, Travis!"


The following is from Silverman's page:

Note: Since all keyboards are different, some keyboard combinations may not work. I apologize in advance for this. Also, when I originally programmed Ken's Labyrinth (way back in 1992-1993), computers were a lot slower. I never bothered to check for the condition that a key could be held down too long. Good luck pecking at those keys!

Freeware release

On November 16, 1999, Ken Silverman, with permission from Epic MegaGames, decided to release the full version of Ken's Labyrinth for free. As of that date, Epic was no longer selling it, and some of their other old games as well. On March 17th 2004, a software development kit for Ken's Labyrinth was released and can be found on Ken Silverman's website

Future Group

Future Crew is credited for doing some artwork for the game. Sceners may recall the they're also responsible for creating the first major demo for the 386, Second Reality.


The inspiration for the dog Sparky came from a wooden dog Ken had in his house.


Silverman went on to create the Build engine, which was used in Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, and other titles. Ken's Labrynth, however, doesn't look anything at all like Build engine games--it was his first game and first engine.


It's development title, WALKEN, was created as a concatenation of walk and Ken (Silverman that is).

Version differences

Believe it or not, there are actually three different Ken games. The first was called Walken. It's a precursor to Ken's Labyrinth. The second was called Ken's Labyrinth, and had nothing to do with Epic Megagames". It was actually released by Ken Silverman and his friend Andrew Cotter under the name of Advanced Systems. The third and final was a redone version of the Advanced Systems Ken released by Epic MegaGames.

Information also contributed by Adam Baratz, Andy Voss, Maw and Mullet of Death

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Related Sites +

  • Download Ken's Labyrinth
    Free, legal download of Ken's Labyrinth -- look for $KEN.ZIP
  • Ken's "Ken's Labyrinth" Page
    Ken Silverman has a section on his personal site devoted to this game. Besides downloading the full registered version, you can also download BUILD versions of the levels, early versions of the program, and source code, including an early version written for QuickBasic 4.5.
    LAB3D/SDL is a port of Ken's Labyrinth (using OpenGL and the SDL library) which runs on Windows, Linux and most other modern systems.

Identifiers +


Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Trixter.

Linux, Windows added by Alsy.

Additional contributors: Adam Baratz, rey_, Pseudo_Intellectual, vedder, Patrick Bregger, Alsy.

Game added November 6th, 1999. Last modified August 14th, 2023.