Exhausted Man is a sleeper hit!
You ever have one of those evenings where you really want to go to sleep but you have to take care of a few things first? You have a lil checklist to run through, but you’re just sooooooooo tiiiiiiiiiiiiredddd that you can’t even pull yourself up off the floor? So instead of completing the items quickly in the typically vertical fashion, you flop, slide, and roll around on the carpet until you achieve your before bedtime tasks? Tasks like making sure your hips are above your well-lit right foot while you hold onto some electronics, staying relaxed throughout the process?
Are we not all Exhausted Man?
If this sounds like a game you’re already platinuming in real life, you should absolutely check out Exhausted Man as part of Steam Next Fest. Currently being developed and self-published by Candleman Games, Exhausted Man is a funny physics-based puzzler that will hit a little too close to home for all those tired folks out there. Featuring controls reminiscent of a somehow sillier Octodad or QWOP that will leave you yawning for more, Exhausted Man will find players forgoing their own bedtime to play this sleeper hit a little while longer.
Exhausted Man is revenge bedtime procrastination to the extreme — our pooped protagonist is so sleepy that he can’t even stand, but before he can get a little shut-eye, he has a series of tasks he must complete. The tasks are wholly unnecessary of course, considering how… well, exhausted he is, but that won’t stop him from depriving himself of sleep in an effort to cross things off his to-do list. These things are mostly odd yoga poses and rearranging the furniture, but when you’re this tired, it doesn’t take much to rationalize not-so-important tasks into critical territory.
Controls are easy to learn and purposefully impossible to master. W causes this sleep-deprived guy to use his legs to skooch himself forward, slithering like a snake if he gets enough propulsion. A and D can be used to make him roll left or right, and S is used to both put on the brakes and hold or drop things. Although I definitely wish a different key had been used for brakes and picking up items, the controls are as frustrating and clunky as one comes to expect with these kinds of games — they’re bad in the good way.
Exhausted Man’s puzzles are layered — during the day, players will receive items to place in the bedroom, like a bed, a poster, a desk, some tissues, etc., which they can later rearrange, albeit in a limited capacity. At night, the dozing dude flops and rolls through his apparently unavoidable tasks, like moving the tissue box to a specific area or keeping the poster away from the light switch. Players have no way of knowing how to Feng Shui their rooms to make the puzzles easier, and tasks are somewhat randomized to keep players on their toes, so gameplay is guaranteed to be a silly, sleepy trainwreck.
Supporting the delightful puzzle mechanics are the art direction and animation. Exhausted Man takes on the appearance of clay in its figures and furniture, while the animation is so exaggerated that it really drives home just how exhausted our prostrate protagonist really is. When propelling himself forward, he scrunches up his feet and bends at the knees, then kicks off to slooooowly slither forward, up walls, and through doors. While turning, his arms twist and crumple under the weight of his torso, laying limply on either side in a pointless effort to conserve energy. I wouldn’t say Exhausted Man feels cozy, but it absolutely feels sleepy, and the aesthetics have everything to do with that.
While playing Exhausted Man, I couldn’t help but think about my own (completely messed up) sleep schedule. I feel like it’s par for the course in the life of any gamer to have a bad relationship with bedtime — it just doesn’t feel right to not get some gaming in before turning in for the night. I mean, I literally pulled an all-nighter because I didn’t feel exhausted enough yet to sleep, so I figured I’d squeeze some more productivity out of me for no other reason than “why not?” Plus how many of us just generally have a checklist we do have to run through before counting sheep, even if it can wait until sunrise? And considering just how tired the exhausted man was, like… literally anything he needed to do could have waited until the next day. I didn’t expect such a lighthearted game to make me re-evaluate some horrible personal habits, but Exhausted Man has me counting sleep… deprived main characters (one).
Be sure to wishlist Exhausted Man on Steam today!