Microscopic survival game VEV: Viva Ex Vivo announced for PS4

Explore worlds smaller than the head of a pin in Truant Pixel’s unusual new title

Hi everyone! Souha here from Truant Pixel. We’re proud to announce that our indie game VEV: Viva Ex Vivo will be launching this summer exclusive to PS4 with planned support for PlayStation VR.


The premise

Viva Ex Vivo’s tag line is “survival on a microscopic scale.” The game features a unique take on arcade-style survival gameplay.

The player assumes the role of a busy microbiologist in the not-so-distant future, whose research partner has taken off for the week for some much-needed R&R. Players will find they’ve been tasked with sifting through their partner’s notes, and completing their team’s work: researching biological samples using a nanoscale artificial organism capable of surviving in a multitude of familiar and foreign microscopic environments.


The VEV 1.0 Module

Dubbed the “Virtual Eukaryote Visualizer,” or VEV for short, this tiny, artificial protist acts as a surrogate explorer, similar in many ways to the unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAV drones, that we are familiar with today.

Rather than being a remote-controlled aircraft, however, it is a durable biological machine, remotely-controlled through an augmented reality computer simulation that allows the user to see the surrounding microscopic environment, only on a massive scale. Worlds normally smaller than the head of a pin become vast expanses to be navigated, owing to the technology of the quantum confocal microscope, or QCM, hardware that powers the VEV interface.


VEV modules in the calibration matrix

A drop of water or a drop of blood becomes a vast, open field for players to explore, where they need to collect valuable organic particles and avoid competing and predatory organisms while testing the limits of the VEV module. As players gather organic particles from their surroundings, they will have two options to harness much-needed biological energy:

  1. They may choose to absorb each bit of food to harvest the energy as soon as possible.
  2. They take a gamble and delay absorption, aggregating the particles on their VEV’s surface. This allows for weak nuclear bonds to form between the compounds, resulting in “molecular crosslinking.” This, in turn, increases the efficiency of absorption, and thus increases potential energy multiplier to a total much greater than would be collected by absorbing said particles individually.

The downside to crosslinking is the risk of losing it all to aggressors in the environment.



Gameplay progression in Viva Ex Vivo is straightforward: explore your environment, find food, and avoid predators. Your ultimate goal is to gather the maximum amount of potential energy possible, and maximize your VEV’s functional lifespan within the time limit. Everything you do, from your swimming speed to your encounters with indigenous organisms, affects your base energy consumption rate.

Players will find themselves in a race against time and a race against entropy as they explore each sample, harvest energy, stay alive, and build that elusive high score.

Though we present VEV as a decidedly laid-back experience (players cannot harm or direct hostile actions toward other creatures), the game is by no means easy. All elements within every biological sample, including composition of the environment as well as placement of food and indigenous life, are randomly generated with each level load. Small ecosystems, including creature behaviours, tend to occur sporadically within each sample. Organic particles have a tendency to spawn within caves and other nooks and crannies, though they may also be found floating about in the open should they be displaced by a wandering microbe. In Viva Ex Vivo, feast or famine may be around every corner.



There are two kinds of stages in Viva Ex Vivo — “in situ” and “ex vivo.” For our purposes, in-situ refers to those samples in which you are viewing indigenous organisms in their native environment, such as a drop of pond water or a dollop of mud.

Ex vivo samples are samples of organic tissue taken from a larger organism, such as a drop of blood or a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. Between the two sample types, ex vivo samples will prove to be the more challenging, as elements of an organism’s immune system carried within the sample will see the VEV as a foreign invader and attack it.

This occurs because VEVs are created by hybridizing molecular machinery of common cellular species (such as staphylococcus and pseudomonas) that are infectious in larger organisms. These derived elements still contain antigenic potential which may activate a host tissue’s residual immune responses.


In addition

Viva Ex Vivo holds additional content for those players skilled enough to unlock hidden “research goals” with unique bonus levels for added value. Beyond these four sample types, the game also features added simulated calibration and challenge modes, based on the popular system software themes that your team has currently installed on their Quantum Confocal Microscope hardware. These modes will also provide players insight into the personality of their lab partner, known only as “S,” whose disarrayed notes cover their mutual workspace.

Viva Ex Vivo features a professionally composed mix of ambient electronic music, designed to fit the mood of each individual stage. Each song features evolving and dynamic elements based upon proximity to key elements within each stage, from the amount of accrued mass on your VEV’s surface, to the ominous drumbeats which signal approaching enemies

Viva Ex Vivo has been designed from the ground up for easy transition to VR. This includes everything from the control scheme to the 3D interface which is presented to the player at all times. VR mode will be offered as a free upgrade once it is available.


In closing

We appreciate the chance to finally share our game with everyone. As a first-time effort for our tiny company (Really, it’s just the three of us!), it has been a truly educational experience. We have other, larger projects in the works which we hope to bring you in the near future!


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9 Comments 0 Author replies
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AlexRiviera 29 February, 2016 @ 4:27 pm   1

Weirdest game i’ve seen so far this year.


Somehow I feel this would go great with the track ‘Lifeforms’ from Future Sound of London.

narvikgutten 29 February, 2016 @ 7:54 pm   3

Nice, but you should release more of your dynamic themes on the European stores =)


Water Bears Yay! 🙂


Looks really original, something you rarely say about video games anymore


This looks awesome. Maybe the nerd inside me is speaking but I can’t wait for this one …

MaxDiehard 1 March, 2016 @ 12:27 pm   7

The microscopic theme reminds me of the old PS3 launch titles, Nucleus and Blast Factor.


I’m aware of – and envious of – all the Truant Pixel themes which can be found on the US store, so news of a game from them piqued my interest straight away. It reminds me a little of flow, by thatgamecompany – and that’s no bad thing. I look forward to checking it out and please – more Truant Pixel themes on the EU store.

serversurfer 3 March, 2016 @ 12:10 am   9

This is a really nice writeup. Kudos.