Exhausted Man is a deeply relatable game about being too tired to stand up

There are something like 100 indie games at Japan's Bitsummit festival this year, about all kinds of things. Slaying demons. Taking your dog for a walk. Piloting mechs. Unpacking your things after a move. But none of them are nearly as relatable as this Chinese game, whose title translates to something akin to "Very Tired Man." The official translation, Exhausted Man, is almost as good.

In Exhausted Man you control a man so tired he cannot stand, or walk, or really do anything with his body except slither around the room like a snake. Think the slapstick physics of Octodad, but for the exhaustion most of us feel every day just from the act of being alive in 2019. This game speaks to me.

Holding W for a few seconds fills the man with a tiny burst of energy. He raises his butt in the air and his elastic body compresses, then stretches forward like the world's saddest Stretch Armstrong. He turns as slugglishly as you'd expect from a man with no bones who can't get off the floor, which makes it amusingly difficult to collect coins scattered around the rooms you explore, or to slither over panels that light up to solve simple puzzles.

We've all been there.

You can also stick to walls, which feels completely natural in a game as silly as this. You also have to stick to walls, because I think your overwhelming tiredness emanates a sort of unavoidable gravity. Pretty deep if you think about it.

WASD are the only controls, with W propelling you forward and the S key surprisingly not turning you around. Instead it inflates your head like a balloon, into a large metal ball, which you release to use like a weapon. You use your head to knock down doors and pound on obstacles that threaten to put you to sleep. There's no fail condition; you just have to mash a button to wake yourself back up again if you start snoozing. Sadly the Exhausted Man, like us, must always wake up again.

I smashed my head into a radio playing soothing music. I also smashed my head into a jar of milk trying to feed me a relaxing drink. I tired-slithered my way through a charmingly chunky 3D house and never once found a bed to sleep in. Collect arbitrary coins. Complete arbitrary tasks. I don't think any videogame has better represented the human experience. 

You should be able to play Exhausted Man on Steam, in English, when it's finished. You can actually play a prototype on Itch.io right now, though the name is different and the music in the trailer above definitely doesn't match the tone of Exhausted Man.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).