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Fatal Figures: Dark Souls Death Counter

Cemetery function

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:


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

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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About the Author

Adam Smith

Former Deputy Editor

Adam wrote for Rock Paper Shotgun between 2011-2018, rising through the ranks to become its Deputy Editor. He now works at Larian Studios on Baldur's Gate 3.