Yesterday Truant Pixel (yes, the same prolific indie developers that brought us some of the best PS4 themes) announced VEV: Viva Ex Vivo, and today they followed up with a press release full of goodies.
First of all, we get a nice batch of 1080p screenshots (the game will run at 1080p and 60 FPS), that you can see at the bottom of the post. Secondly, we get a hefty and very interesting overview on how the game will work, which you can read in full below:
Viva Ex Vivo is presented as a third person action and exploration game, designed to embody “survival on a microscopic scale.” The game features a unique take on arcade style survival gameplay in simulated virtual worlds within a microcosm. The player assumes the role of a young microbiologist in the not so distant future, investigating biological samples using a nanoscale artificial organism capable of
surviving in nearly any kind of microscopic environment.
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 in realtime, only on a massive scale. Players are tasked with avoiding competing and predatory organisms, and collecting valuable organic particles to harness biological energy essential to keep their VEV functioning. Upon gathering food, players will have two options:
- Choose to absorb each bit of food they come upon to harvest the energy as soon as possible;
- Take a gamble and delay absorption, aggregating the particles on the 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. The downside to crosslinking is the risk of losing some or all of it to aggressors in the environment.
Gameplay progression in Viva Ex Vivo is straightforward: explore the expansive, randomly generated environment, find food, and avoid predators. The player’s ultimate goal is to gather the maximum amount of potential energy possible and maximize their VEV’s functional lifespan within the time limit. The game is designed to encourage optimal resource management on a small scale, as everything players do, from their swimming speed to encounters with indigenous organisms, affects the base energy consumption rate. Each level becomes a race against time and a race against entropy as users explore each sample, harvest energy, stay alive, and build that elusive high score. Due to the random nature of each stage’s layout, 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, ins itu refers to those samples which contain indigenous organisms in their native environment, such as a drop of pond water or a gram of soil. Ex vivo samples are samples of organic tissue taken from a larger organism, such as a drop of blood or 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.
Beyond these four main sample types, the game also features added simulated calibration and challenge modes. These modes may also provide players some insight into the personality of their absent colleague, known only as “S”, whose disarrayed notes cover their mutual workspace.
The game’s visuals have been designed reflect the unique qualities of actual high definition scanning electron microscope imagery. The game is presented from a third person (thirdprotist?) perspective, with 360 degree movement in all directions. Viva Ex Vivo is presented in a native 1080p, vsynced 60 fps.
Viva Ex Vivo features a professionally composed mix of ambient and analogue electronic music, designed to fit the mood of each biological sample. Each song features evolving and dynamic elements which shift and evolve based upon proximity to key elements within each stage.
Viva Ex Vivo also features dual shock speaker support for in game status updates, as well as trophies are awarded for reaching predetermined ‘research goals.’ At present the number of trophies is being finalized, but will include gold and silver rewards for achieving high scores on each level, achieving a maximum cumulative energy score across all four main stages, and unlocking other bonus content (to be announced).
Interestingly, the game is being designed for VR from the beginning, and will get a free upgrade with PlayStation VR support some time after launch, which will happen this Summer, exclusively for PS4.