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Platform(s): PC
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Waving Bear Studios
Release Date: 2022


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PC Preview - 'Stuffed'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 8, 2022 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Stuffed is a fast-paced first-person shooter with a cuddly twist, that takes place in the dreams of a little girl named Ellie.

Whether playing solo or with friends, horde mode is simple fun that can be strategic if you wish it to be. Most of the time, games that focus or feature a horde mode seem aimed squarely at a more mature audience. If you have kids who want to play or you're just tired of the gore and grotesque, you might not have many options available. Stuffed looks to fill that gap, and it does well, but it may not be the right fit for those who are just starting out with shooters.

The setup seems familiar but relatively new for first-person shooters. Ellie is about to go to sleep, and like most little kids, she has her faithful teddy bear to keep her company and protect her from evil. It turns out that she's right, as several malicious toys led by shadow monsters are coming through portals to break down her door. As her faithful teddy bear, it is up to you — and perhaps a few other bears — to arm yourselves and protect Ellie until bedtime is over.

If you've played any horde shooter before, then you know what to expect in Stuffed. A wave starts, and all you need to do is blast away until the enemy count for the wave reaches zero. At times, enemies will drop power-ups, like the ability to freeze everyone on the field or create a screen-wide explosion, but you'll mostly be getting your weapons and ammo from the field. The weapons are typical of shooters like pistols, rocket launchers, and sniper rifles, but they've all been modified to look like stuff that's been haphazardly cobbled together from random bits around the house. Killing enemies gets you XP that you can turn in for upgrades, like more health or a repair kit for the door. The game ends when you either die or the door to Ellie's room loses its health.

For the most part, it plays well enough and accomplishes the basics without much fuss. What really drives the game is how well they've adapted everything to ensure that feels kid-friendly and menacing. The lawn gnomes look fine, as do the tiny robots, but kids may find it more creepy when they see a rubber duck with visible teeth. You don't see your own bear, but you see some nice fur shading when looking at other bears or when performing a melee attack. It has a brighter look due to the kid-friendly aesthetic, and it looks quite good overall.

Not counting some of the bugs due to the game's Early Access state, one of the issues that players may have with the game is that it is more tuned to a multiplayer experience. Given the meager amount of ammo you have, the durability of most enemies, and the multiple pathways from which enemies may approach, going solo is almost impossible because you need to deal with all of that and still have time to get upgrades at the bench. Every enemy hits for a tremendous amount of damage, so unless you're playing with a very adept group, expect to die often before passing the 10th wave of enemies.

If you're planning on playing the game on the Steam Deck, you should know that the title isn't optimized for the system yet. Loading is bad enough that you may think you've crashed, and the main menu doesn't seem responsive until you've hit the B button to make the game recognize the controls. The game over screen is quite lengthy, but it is skippable, and the few options mean that there isn't much you can do to fine-tune the experience to look good and still get over two hours of battery life out of the title. It plays at a solid 60fps with no hitching once you get into the gameplay, but it needs more time before it can impress on the portable.

At the moment, Stuffed is something that might be good for those looking for a more non-violent horde mode, provided they have a crew to play with them. The aesthetic is both inventive and frightening, and there is more than enough here to challenge gamers who thrive on this kind of shooter. Unless the title misses its release date, look for it to come out of Early Access and launch by the end of the year.

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