Note: this game is currently in Early Access at the time of review.

In the rich, colorful, procedurally-generated world of STUFFED, you play as a teddy bear set in first-person perspective. Loaded with popcorn grenades and weapons that are made of commonly-owned household items, your job is to protect your owner – a little girl whose dream you’re in while she’s sleeping. Waves of enemies will appear through a portal in the house – gnomes, ducks with sharp teeth, miniature robots, you name it. Using the weapons at your disposal, eliminate these enemies before they reach Ellie’s door.

It’s actually a really interesting concept. The world around you is huge, since your teddy bear is small. The idea of using exploding popcorn as a grenade, or a slingshot that uses a can of Coke for ammo, is a fresh take than what you typically see in a first-person shooter. No blood spilt. No creepy zombies. No constant NPC chatter. And the gameplay itself is very smooth. You might have to adjust the stick sensitivity a little lower than what it is by default if you’re playing with a gamepad or playing on the Deck, but other than that, the animations and mechanics are spot-on.

STUFFED crayon gun

After a wave of enemies are defeated, you’ll have a short amount of time to re-stock your ammo, repair the door, or unlock more areas of the house, using the “score” system. Defeating enemies earn you this score, and a certain amount of score has to be spent in order to do any sort of upgrades. There’s also a station that you can visit where you can unlock perks, such as allowing your bear to sprint indefinitely, or have the ability to revive itself when it’s down.

Another cool feature is you can customize the way your teddy bear looks. If you want it to look like a panda, or as a leopard, or as a tiger, so be it. From there you can equip outfits on your character – from an astronaut, to a pirate, to a knight, and everything in-between. The 13 different weapons in the game can also have their skins customized. Changing the appearance of your bear or weapon costs a certain amount of coins, which you’ll earn after finishing a match.

One of the things that’s really holding this game back is the lack of players. Even though the game can be played solo, it’s meant more so for online multiplayer, set as PvE. I’ve tried searching for an online lobby during my playthroughs, and I haven’t been able to find a single soul to play with. Steam Charts report that currently there are zero players playing the game as of the time of writing this, and there’s only been an average of 1.4 players as of the past month. Finding a couple of people to play this game with would not only make the match more fun, but it would also make it easier to fight through the waves.

STUFFED fighting a horde of enemies

And that’s where my next critique comes in. Playing this game solo, I haven’t been able to get past the 6th or 7th horde. The first couple of waves are easy, but then these huge monsters come in the subsequent waves. Defeating these monsters takes quite a bit of time, and it doesn’t help that you’re trying to fend off the other enemies that are attacking either you or Ellie’s door. This often doesn’t give you enough time to eradicate the huge monster, which will repeatedly attack Ellie’s door until the “door health” gauge depletes. It would be nice if your teddy bear got a few buffs while playing solo to make it easier to play through, or at least have a CPU-controlled teddy bear that fights along with you.

Weirdly enough there are times when I get into a match and there’s no sound. The music still plays in the background, but no sound can be heard when firing your weapon or when your opponent attacks. Going back to the main menu and then starting another round usually fixes this.

There’s also this bug where, sometimes I can’t attack the huge monster that attacks Ellie’s door. I can drain the monster’s health to about half, but any shots after that, it barely takes any damage. Not sure why that happens.

STUFFED fighting a horde of more enemies

Steam Deck Compatibility

The game starts off with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 by default. You can lower this down to 1280 x 720 in the Video section of the Options menu, then set the scaling mode to “Stretch” if you want to get rid of the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen.

You can set the graphics preset to “Ultra” and generally get around 60 FPS, without the TDP or GPU clock speed limits engaged.

For 45 FPS/90 Hz, try setting the TDP limit to 10 W, and the GPU clock speed to 700 MHz. For 30 FPS/90 Hz, try 6 W and 500 MHz.

This is just by going through the main menu itself, which has your teddy bear and a few enemies chasing after it. In-game you may have to adjust these values a bit depending on how many enemies there are on screen (I wouldn’t be able to test these values without getting hit, heh).

STUFFED on Deck, with 45 FPS preset

Needs More Players

STUFFED is a really great concept. I like the rich, vibrant world of Ellie’s house. The gameplay mechanics themselves are pretty decent. Teddy bear and weapon customization is a nice plus that makes your bear more personal to you. The biggest hurdle this game needs to overcome is to have more players. You’re definitely going to want a buddy or two to hook up with; the game can be pretty difficult to play solo after half-a-dozen or so waves are cleared. Either that or have the developers make a CPU-controlled character to fight along with you, or somehow make it easier to fend off the subsequent waves.

There’s also the occasional issue where no sound effects are played in-game, or some enemies won’t take any damage after being hit multiple times.

TL;DR

The good:

  • procedurally-generated maps that are colorful and vibrant
  • unique weapon concepts and enemies
  • teddy bear and weapon skin customization
  • great if you’re looking for a less mature-themed zombies-style PvE game

The not-so-good:

  • this game needs more players
  • can be difficult if you’re playing solo
  • sometimes there’s no sound played when entering a game, or some enemies may not take damage at all for some reason

STUFFED is available on Steam for $13.

Review key provided by Keymailer.

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