Fatal Figures: Dark Souls Death Counter

By Adam Smith on March 10th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

When I started playing Dark Souls on PC, I decided to keep track of my many deaths. Ten minutes in, I’d run out of fingers to cont on and after a couple of hours, I’d filled a notebook with tally marks. Ten hours passed before my calculator fizzed, smoke and sparked, ‘I DIED’ flickering across the liquid display. Needless to say, I didn’t manage to keep score. Now, thanks to a small group of bright sparks at darksoulsdeaths.com, it’s possible to extract the death data from a save game file so that the world can know your shame. More below, including the entirely reasonable Dark Souls II system specs.

As well as counting and collating demise statistics, Dark Souls Deaths also tracks area completion stats, displayed in the form of handy graphs. I spoke to developer and co-founder Veret about death and the machine. You can find his thoughts on what the death counter tells us just after the system specs for the sequel:

Minimum:

OS: Windows XP SP3, Vista SP2, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8
Processor: AMD® Phenom II™ X2 555 3.2Ghz or Intel® Pentium Core ™ 2 Duo E8500 3.17Ghz
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® 9600GT, ATI Radeon™ HD 5870
DirectX: Version 9.0c
Network: Broadband Internet connection
Hard Drive: 14 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX 9 sound device
Additional Notes: Controller support: Microsoft Xbox 360® Controller for Windows® (or equivalent) recommended

Recommended:
OS: Windows 7 SP1
Processor: Intel® CoreTM i3 2100 3.10GHz or AMD® A8 3870K 3.0GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 465 or higher, ATI Radeon™ HD 6870 or higher
DirectX: Version 9.0c
Network: Broadband Internet connection
Hard Drive: 14 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX 9 sound device
Additional Notes: Controller support: Microsoft Xbox 360® Controller for Windows® (or equivalent) recommended

I tried out the mouse and keyboard support for Dark Souls but much prefer playing with a controller. Did anyone have any joy with the traditional PC peripherals?

Here’s what Veret had to say when I got in touch this morning:

RPS: How did you construct the death counter? I presume it’s a system of pulleys, levers, enormous abaci and softly whispering hourglasses?

Veret: eur0pa made the initial discovery (see our About page). Basically FromSoft put a death counter variable in your save file and didn’t tell anyone about it, either because they are evil or they wanted to give PC players an opportunity to prove their worth. To find something like this you have to open your save file in a hex editor (example) and look for all the values that correspond to what you’re looking for–e.g. I am level 79 and the number 79 appears 150 times in my save file. Then you do something in-game to change that variable (die, level up, whatever) and go look again–now the number 80 appears 113 times, and one of them used to be a 79, so that’s your level variable.

RPS: What is your personal death count?

Veret: My first character (a tank) died 150 times, and my second (DEX build with 9 VIT) died 185.

RPS: Around 20% of people don’t make it past the Asylum Demon. What is wrong with them? How can we help them to overcome their own demons?

Veret: Our own Completely Infallible Graphs show 80% of players beating the demon and steamrolling on through the first bell. I should also point out that a lot of people appear to be “stuck” on the asylum when really they beat the game, got booted back to NG+, and didn’t bother to continue. To those people who really are stuck: 1) Run away through the door on your left–don’t try this fight with no items and half a sword. And 2) check out this spoiler-free beginners guide for the rest of your journey. Good luck!

RPS: Do you have any specific thoughts about the moments when completion seems to drop off? What do you think causes players to give up in various situations?

Veret: More than anything, I’m surprised to not see a huge dropoff at Anor Londo (you can guess why). The drop at the end is just because everyone who got 4 lord souls decided to go ahead and finish the game. As for the drop between Anor Londo and the first lord soul, I think everyone considers one of the four to be their own personal hell, and they were just unlucky enough to start there.

RPS: Do you think the conversation about Dark Souls’ difficulty occasionally distracts from the game’s other qualities?

Veret: Sort of. Flappy Bird is a harder game than Dark Souls, so it’s not like difficulty is everything, but it is the main thing. Dark Souls isn’t challenging, it is a challenge. It is difficult but fair, and when (if) you beat it, you get the exhilaration of knowing that your own skill and intelligence met that challenge, and nobody handed you a damn thing. The environments, the lore, everything else is superbly well done, but I think it all exists to support that one experience.

RPS: Will you look to do something similar for Dark Souls II?

Veret: Hope so! See our FAQ, which probably didn’t exist the last time you checked. Everything is contingent on the deaths variable existing, and our having enough time to work on it.

RPS: Thanks for your time!

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73 Comments »

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  1. aliksy says:

    This may be a naive question, but if it’s running on ps3 and xbox360s still, shouldn’t it run on anything that ran the first game? Or did they add fancy stuff without the option of turning it off? My compy’s graphics card is getting old, so I’m worried that it won’t run this now.

    • Milos says:

      I’ve found that system requirements are often pessimistic. It’s probably just a way for devs to cover their arses and be sure that everything over the minimum req runs 100%. Having humble video cards in the past I’ve played tons of games that I technically didn’t meet the requirements for, so I always take it with a generous grain of salt.

      That said, a lot of bad console ports are resource hogs that play awfully even on powerful rigs so… the ball is in FromSoft’s court.

      • WhaleboneMcCoy says:

        A lot of companies also tend to inflate figures so that the game doesnt seem so out of date. This has been especially true of console ports over the last 4 years.

  2. Premium User Badge

    LTK says:

    The hyperlinks seem to be missing from the interview.

    • Premium User Badge

      Mr. Anderson says:

      I had to log in to see the hyperlinks in this article.

  3. Davie says:

    Seven hundred and forty-three times. SEVEN HUNDRED AND FORTY-THREE.

    This is apparently about 500 deaths over the average, and what this likely means is that I now have a pretty good idea of how many times I fought Ornstein and Smough. Those bastards.

    • Drayk says:

      I died 261 times to complete the game without the DLC…. Not sur if it’s a lot or not. But it’s still a huge number.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sunjumper says:

      758 including DLC and I have yet to get the lordsouls.
      I’m obviously horrible at that game but also incredibly stubborn.
      I’d say we who die the most are the greatest heroes for our will to go on is the strongest!

    • Premium User Badge

      Muppetizer says:

      My main/first character has 752 deaths.

      My oniongirl character made it all the way through NG+ with just 58 deaths, so if you’re having trouble I guess that armour might help?

  4. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    Skyrim ruined this for me. I was really into Dark Souls (on the 360 at the time), and then Skyrim came out….and I started on that.

    Weeks later I just couldn’t get to urge to go back to it. Hoping to remedy that with DS2 mind.

    • aliksy says:

      Really? I felt the opposite. After playing Dark Souls, Skyrim felt too shallow to hold any allure.

    • Blackcompany says:

      I bounced off Dark Souls the first time. Bounced hard. Went back to Skyrim for months. Had a lot of great mods. Deadlier combat; better spells; more weapons and armor.

      But nothing I did ever made the world feel…dangerous. Or the dungeons truly deadly. And I kept waiting for the game to change. To offer me different combat styles and strategies. I mean…I had spears and axes; rapiers and fighting staves. The works. But they all looked exactly the same. And the enemies, well…the bestiary is tiny and lacks variety. And all the humanoid enemies fight the same, even if you mod the AI to behave more intelligently.

      And then one day, it just…clicked. Hard. Dark Souls was the game I was looking for. I hated it; loathed the difficulty and the way it forced me to repeat the same content. The way every enemy was deadly dangerous; the constant tension and vulnerability. Whatever it was Dark Souls offered, I hated it.

      Until I didn’t anymore. And now I can’t put it down. I died more than 25 times to Capra Demon alone. Then I found a…means…for defeating him that, I think, might have been the developer’s intention all along. Call it a lesson in using the environment to your advantage. Then I despised Blighttown, but it turns out, I’m not alone in that one. And still I keep going.

      I don’t know precisely what it is that Dark Souls offers that other games don’t. A method for satiating a certain kind of Masochism, perhaps. But I do know that Skyrim doesn’t have it. But I knew what I wanted: A world in which I wasn’t some Jungian hero with his coming of age tutor; where dungeons were dangerous, traps deadly and enemies would punish a careless fighter who tried to rush through to the treasure chest. I wanted danger; I wanted risk; I wanted to be punished for my mistakes, for once, and rewarded – truly rewarded – when I learned something and mastered a new foe.

      And that, Dark Souls has. In Spades.

      • Easy says:

        That.

      • Niko says:

        Dark Souls has that weight, realness to it. I have a lot of reasons to like Skyrim, but in some regards it’s just a huge amusement park. Plus, I don’t know any other games except Monster Hunter series with combat mechanics comparable to that in Dark Souls.

        • jnsrjl says:

          Try Dragon’s Dogma. After that you think Dark Souls’ boss fights are just silly. In Souls you hit the nail of Caping Dragon (more like Walking Vulva) until it dies, but Dogma lets you to climb that beast and shove a sword between it’s eyes (or legs, if you’re into that sort of thing). I still prefer Souls for the regular fights and consistent theme but Dogma really ruined the boss fights.

          I wouldn’t hope for a change since From Software isn’t known from radical changes to working concepts.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Dragon’s Dogma does really strike that nice balance between Dark Souls’ oppressiveness at times (especially Bitterblack Isle added in Dark Arisen, that place is dripping with atmosphere) while throwing in Shadow of the Colossus’ titan scaling scaling into a fairly open world.
            Also, nighttime. Never go out at night. It is dark.

            Man, Dragon’s Dogma really needs a sequel to iron out some of its problems…

          • Niko says:

            It’s looks really interesting; sadly, it’s only on Xbox and PS3, which I don’t have.

      • Premium User Badge

        Chaz says:

        In Dark Souls, the combat is what the game is all about, where as in Skyrim the combat is just another part of the whole package. Which one you prefer depends on what you’re there for.

        For me it’s Skyrim. I’m there for the sweeping vistas, the sunsets in the mountains or moon lit nights by the lakes. Exploring the world and meeting the locals, doing their quests and creating a home for yourself. The fighting for me is just one of a means to an end, not the reason to be there in of its self.

        For a more straight forward hardcore hack and slash experience, then obviously Dark Souls is king.

        I’ve never really understood the comparisons between Dark Souls and Skyrim to be honest. They might both be sword and sorcery RPG’s but the games they are trying to be are two completely different kettles of fish.

  5. Cyda says:

    Just finished my first play through on this and up to firelink shrine in NG+ it seems I’ve died 125 times on this character… it felt like more than that in places (*grumble* grumble blighttown *grumble*). Looking forward to DS2 to see if the devs do as good a job as the modders did in DS1.

    • aepervius says:

      I found the game difficulty to be all that there was in it, and so lost interrest. The file says I have died 27 times. But then again the first things I did after losing interrest in DS was cheat myself infinite souls, pump everything to 255, and then proceed to plow through. Now I know better and won#t bother with DS2.

      • aliksy says:

        If you played online while cheating you are a monster.

        Playing with max stats sounds like it would get boring very quickly.

      • Unclepauly says:

        The game is strong and your soul is weak.

      • Niko says:

        That’s… a weird way to play games.

      • fish99 says:

        The game has a lot more than just difficulty, like the art design, the atmosphere, the gameplay, the music, the subtle story, the elation of progressing or beating a boss etc.

        And cheating is a sad way to play it.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Just hit Blighttown. For the very first time.

      It hits back. Hard.

      I love the what they were going for, atmospherically. But in terms of navigation its an annoyance, with a bestiary to match. I have never in my life seen such generous use of negative status effects in a game. I’m…not really sure I personally like it as a game design decision, but I am pushing through the content. And though I am dying rather a lot I am enjoying the experience for the most part.

      • aliksy says:

        If you got the spider shield from the previous area (or another optional area) then you can use it to block poison attacks.

        Be aware that different armors have different levels of status resistances. The armor of people who come from swamps has good poison resist. I like that consistency.

        There’s a ring you probably didn’t get that lets you move at full speed in the swamp.

        • Blackcompany says:

          Currently have: The Rusty Iron ring, for movement. Nabbed it on a return to the Asylum. I learned about it by accident, when I learned that returning to the Asylum is a thing you can do. I also nabbed the Spider Shield from somewhere, but I cannot recall where.

          Currently I have: Shadow Armor, Rusty Iron Ring, Poison Bite Ring and Spider Shield. It was painful letting go of all those souls for the Poison Bite, but worth it. My Poison resistance, even at Zero humanity, is around 246. So I can take a dart or two and go for cover while the resistance bar drains, then once it does so, find the sniper. All in all I am pretty well geared for Blighttown; now its just slow movement, careful watching of the shadows for snipers and dreading another tough boss fight – this time miles from the Bonfire, apparently.

          Still I can’t stop now. I have some things to do around the house tonight and work tomorrow and I still feel that Dark Souls itch. But my next session needs to allow ample time for Blighttown and exploration. Careful exploration.

          • Niko says:

            Good thing those snipers don’t respawn.

          • nrvsNRG says:

            I’m as comfortable in Blightown as I am in my own home now. You can easily learn where everything is, quite quickly, its actually a really well designed, vertically massive level. Just prepare for it and its gravy.

          • Askeladd says:

            Blight towns deadliness comes from the frame rate drops you experience in that place is what I can say after going through it multiple times. I really hope they have a place like Blight Town again in the new Darksouls, I just love that place and his rather stupid inhabitants, you can hilariously knock down from edges. The only thing that worries me every time I visit that place is the elevator of doom.

          • fish99 says:

            One of the best things about the PC version is enjoying Blight Town without the framerate drops.

          • rei says:

            You can give yourself a more manageable version of the toxin effect with dung pies when around snipers, as their toxin doesn’t stick then.

  6. derbefrier says:

    I lost my original save but I know I died a hell of a lot. Specially since I liked to pvp.

    Can’t wait for dark souls 2 though I am prepared to die.

    • dE says:

      As far as I know, deaths as a phantom do not count. Only deaths as the host.
      But still, good thing my initial save is on the console toys and I can’t look. It’s definitely not the neat 17 deaths I got on my first PC Save. More like 300 or something.

      • derbefrier says:

        ahh didnt know that. I know i still died a lot though on my first play through probably not as much as some since i did co-op quite a bit(which makes the game a lot easier to handle) plus i had the advantage of having a friend who already had 300 plus hours in the console version who helped quite a bit so my first tanky knight was facetanking bosses half way through my first play through. Poise, stanima, and health and strength meant i could wear the heaviest armor in the game without getting the fat roll and I could take hits from the biggest bosses without getting knocked on my ass so it was mostly a matter of being patient and blocking while waiting for an opening. Though being slow did make some fights a real pain in the ass.

  7. altum videtur says:

    On my first ever playthrough (PC), I died I think 15 or so times. But I have seen several entire playthroughs of the game at that point (and Demon’s Souls! I am mentally disturbed!) so it’s hardly fair.

  8. Shazbut says:

    I died over twice the average

    It took me almost 10 hours to defeat O&S

    • Davie says:

      It took me eight months of trying a dozen times a week. D:

      • Shazbut says:

        My God, your persistence is insane. What did it feel like when you finally defeated them?

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          In lieu of an answer from the OP, I never got the whole “but you feel amazing when you finally win” feeling at all. As an example, I remember taking so many attempts to beat sif the wolf, and when he finally keeled over I just felt depressed at the battering I had received and how many attempts it took. With other bosses I kept waiting for that “wow” feeling but it never came. My H4rdC0r3 gland must be defective.

  9. bigjig says:

    223 deaths on my main character – less than I thought it would be :)

  10. serioussgtstu says:

    This website has some amazing statistics. Top 5 nicknames for Ornstein and Smough: 1) Pikachu and Snorlax, 2) Fuck this I quit, 3) Biggie Smalls, 4) Timone and Pumba and 5) Super Londo Bros.

  11. kalirion says:

    Minimum
    Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® 9600GT, ATI Radeon™ HD 5870

    Um, what? Am I the only one who finds something amiss here?

    • DanMan says:

      Nope. It’ll look like ass.

    • Wulfram says:

      Yeah, that’s kind of odd. In fact, the 5870 is apparently more powerful than the two recommended cards.

      • ChrisGWaine says:

        If a Radeon HD 5870 is better than a Radeon HD 6870, it’s not hard to imagine how people coming up with system requirements might struggle to make good sense of it.

    • SuicideKing says:

      You’ll find this pattern with almost all system requirements, a weaker Nvidia card with a more powerful AMD one.

      • kalirion says:

        But not with this much difference. A 5870 is 2-3x more powerful than a 9600GT. I can only assume there was a typo and it’s supposed to be a 5670, and then the error got copy-pasted everywhere from then on.

  12. Premium User Badge

    DrScuttles says:

    My character deaths vary from 761 to 70. It’s amazing to see the difference that time and experience makes.

  13. Nate says:

    For PC Users: Your save file can be found in program files/google/chrome/passwords

  14. Damn Rookie says:

    I may just fail at reading today, but I didn’t spot Adam’s death count in the article…

  15. Premium User Badge

    psepho says:

    Dark Souls makes me so sad! I am desperate to play it and really get into the world but I’m just not good enough. According to Steam I have about ten hours on it but have never got through Undead Burgh. Partly I think that it’s simply a case of not having sufficient controller skills and experience playing third-person games.

    • Blackcompany says:

      I felt the same way for more than a year. I just…couldn’t do it. No matter how hard I tried, I could not take down even the Taurus Demon.

      Then it clicked. I had to change the way I thought about games. Until that moment, I had played in nothing but amusement parks. Nice, safe, level-to-the-player systems. Adventure without the risk.

      I started over. I made a warrior. But more than that, I went to some wikis in order to understand how Souls and Humanity and Kindling worked. I started to kindle bonfires so I had a safe place to rest and restore flasks. I began to kindle fires so as to restore flasks whenever I rested.

      Helpful hints:

      -Draw enemies out. Every foe has an aggro range. Use it to bring them to you, one at a time. Move slowly in order to do this. If you’re running early in the game, its because you have a death wish.

      -Learn to Parry Black Knights. Draw one out to a point where you can retrieve souls without triggering it if you die and need to come back. Then practice. Once you can parry Black Knights, it makes them much less daunting. I was terrible at fighting them; now, I go hunting for them.

      -You can block more enemies than you realize. Including Taurus Demon and the Heavy Knight. But you need Poise. Poise comes from wearing heavier armor and a stout shield. The heavier this gear the less you are staggered and knocked down.

      -Upgrade items. If you research it, you can reach a Blacksmith risk free very early who can perform some basic upgrades. Do this.

      -There is a risk free Dex based blade down the stairs from Firelink. NOT in the graveyard. Go down and use an elevator.

      Just take it slow. Pretend you are in that world and that things work the way they would if you were there. Chances are, they usually will work that way.

      • derbefrier says:

        some good tips.

        also always get the master key when you build your character its the only thing you cant find in the game. It can open shortcuts that allow access to some powerful weapons that will greatly help early game plus you can unlock the back door to Blight town and skip the majority of it.

        you need to know what weapon you are using from the start spreading points out too much will make higher level weapons not as powerful or impossible to use.

        using the master key at a certain place in the berg you can get a lightning enchant for your weapon which owns the Taurus demon specially if you climb the tower to do a 2 handed drop attack. (using a good 2 hander and that enchant you can 2 shot the motherfucker)

        the most important i think is as you said to draw enemies out and fight on your own terms. specially when you are starting out and cant take many hits.

        also take a few minutes to look at a wiki to learn what all the different stats do and how to read them. some are very vague and not really obvious. this will help character building immensely.

        • aliksy says:

          You can buy the master key before too long in the game, but it’s easy to miss the merchant, and after the only time it’s really useful.

          Pretty much any weapon in the game can be used throughout. My first playthrough I used a longsword. I upgraded as much as I could, but it was the same one that a hollow mook dropped outside firelink.

          • LVX156 says:

            I would argue that the most important use for the Master key is to take the easy route into Blighttown, and get to Darkroot Garden before killing a single boss. You can get a ridiculous number of soul items as lvl 1, without killing a single creature.

            TechPhantomReviewer has a very nice bow only walkthrough on YouTube, and he shows how to maximize the # of souls you have before killing the Gargoyles.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Something I always bear repeating about Dark Souls: it is a game about learning. The sooner you realise this and drop all your preconceptions of games the better you’ll do.
        There’s a reason why a lot of people who don’t really play games at all really like Dark Souls.

    • fish99 says:

      Just lock-on, block and then counter attack with a light attack (not talking about parry and riposte which is hard, no, just hold block, wait until after an attack hits your shield, then light attack). This will get you through most regular enemies, especially early game.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Mr. Anderson says:

    Apparently I’m one of those 20% who never got past the first boss. I remember running around him in circles looking for the door but for some reason I couldn’t find it.
    Can anyone recommend a beginners guide for DS (preferable with a section about stats, weapons and stuff)?
    Because I’m tempted to go back but I feel a bit lost every time I start up the game.

  17. Horg says:

    ”I tried out the mouse and keyboard support for Dark Souls but much prefer playing with a controller. Did anyone have any joy with the traditional PC peripherals?”

    Do you mean the default M+K support? If so, it’s absolutely unplayable. Mouse control to turn the camera, keyboard turning for movement……not even once. That said, it is possible to get functional mouse control with mods:

    http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2927080

    You need DSFix from Nexus Forums and the updated DSMouseFix from the above link. With those installed you can mouse turn, adjust in game mouse sensitivity and rebind actions to your mouse buttons. Turn the sensitivity up a bit so turning doesn’t feel sluggish and you are good to go.

  18. Revolving Ocelot says:

    104 deaths on my first character. That’s a lie! Fiction! I refuse to accept anything less than thrice that number.
    That said, I didn’t get invaded much. My first three invasions were from twinks, and later on in the game when I tried human form again, I got invaded twice by cheaters. No, a Black Knight Sword +3 shouldn’t be inflicting 1 damage with backstabs on naked blue people. After that I just disconnected from the internet whenever I went human form. It wasn’t worth bothering with.

    I never trust anything that says my skill is better than my own rock-bottom perception, but I’ve preordered Dark Souls 2 and I am prepared to die 500 times.

  19. fish99 says:

    363 deaths here and I’ve just hit the brick wall called Manus in NG+ (already got the 4 lord souls). NG+ hasn’t seemed much harder until now, but NG+ Manus is just horrible.

    Most of those deaths were Artorias and Kalameet.

    • aliksy says:

      I actually find manus easier than artorias. The pendant negates his magic attacks, his physical attacks I find easy to dodge, and he leaves himself exposed after attacking.

      • fish99 says:

        I found Manus pretty easy on NG, but on NG+ he’s doing a lot more damage and leaving me with no stamina. I’ve got him down to 25% but once he starts the dark magic attacks he one shots me because I can’t keep my health up. I dunno how I’m supposed to switch to that pendant and cast it in time to block his magic. I can’t read his attacks at all and he’s so damn quick and aggressive.

        I’ll figure it out though.

  20. frightlever says:

    I haven’t died once…. watching the Crate and Crowbar playthru on Youtube. More my speed – the only risk is dying of laughter.

    However, I am currently engrossed in Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, which seems to get compared to Dark Souls quite a bit.

    • Ringwraith says:

      They hold to a similar level of ‘letting yourself get murdered by taking the wrong turn’.
      Also Bitterblack Isle is an amazingly oppressive locale, but only to be played once you’ve actually beaten the game once and cycle back to the beginning really.

  21. solymer89 says:

    It sounds like anyone that enjoys Dark Souls would have enjoyed EQ back in the day. Besides the lore, the only other thing that really appealed to me in WoW was how streamlined they made everything, shows why I haven’t delved into DS yet. Now that I have a much better understanding of games and such I look back fondly on EQ and how horrible of a player I really was. Different games, different genres but their themes are the same, danger around every corner, from almost any foe so long as you were in a level appropriate zone.

    • frightlever says:

      Not really. I played old school EQ virtually from launch and I get no sense of an EQ vibe in Dark Souls. If anything old school Ultima Online would be more like it, because there was more twitch skill in UO, IMO.

  22. Halk says:

    Isn’t eur0pa the creator of the Dark Souls PVP Watchdog anti-cheat tool? Nice find there.