STUFFED Review: A Delightfully Cute Shooter with Surprising Scares

Kick back, relax, and fight off endless hordes of childhood nightmares as an adorable teddy bear in STUFFED.
Stuffed title poster

Have you ever wondered what Call of Duty Zombies would be like if it were cute? Well, you can stop searching because I have just the game for you. 

STUFFED is the first game from developer Waving Bear Studio. You take control of an adorable teddy bear who will stop at nothing to protect Ellie, a young girl and your owner, from the spooky things that go bump in the night. Creepy garden gnomes, vampire rubber ducks, reanimated toys, and shadow-like nightmares will stop at nothing to reach Ellie in her sleep. It’s up to you (and possibly three of your friends) to use your arsenal of weapons made from arts and crafts supplies, sports equipment, and general household goods to protect Ellie through the night.

Disclosure: STUFFED is in Early Access at the time of this writing, and we received a free copy for review from Game Press.

STUFFED’s gameplay is a good start

gnomes and ducks walking forward

STUFFED is very straightforward: shoot the enemies and survive as long as possible. You have melee and ranged weapons, grenades, abilities, and perks at your disposal. Get out there and protect Ellie’s bedroom door. It’s nothing revolutionary for the wave-survival genre, but it’s a great start, and Waving Bear Studio’s first game has plenty of potential. 

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Immediately after playing a few rounds, I noticed it was way more challenging than expected. Even though you play as a small teddy bear, there isn’t much room for error in STUFFED’s rooms and hallways, which are cluttered with obstacles that could either help or hinder your game. One small mistake and the nightmares can quickly get one or two hits on you, and considering you start with only two hearts and each hit takes about half away, it could end your run before you get any new weapons or abilities. 

nightmares in front door

Speaking of weapons, the weapon design carries much of STUFFED’s gameplay. From the starting gun, a hand crossbow made with pencils that shoots tiny balls, to the many weapons you can find throughout the house, STUFFED’s weapons are just as cute as the teddy bears wielding them (which are completely customizable). And they’re all very unique, like dual revolvers made from Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots or, my personal favorite, a light-machine gun that shoots crayons. I’m not sure what Ellie’s teaching her teddy bears, but they’re practically master gunsmiths, and I love it. 

However, one of my biggest issues with the gunplay is the constant reloading. No matter the weapon, it feels like you can only hold a handful of ammo. And while it makes sense that a teddy bear isn’t stockpiling ammunition, it dragged the gameplay down a bit for me. I noticed how often I was reloading – usually after killing two or three enemies – and I found myself using most of my perk upgrades on ammo storage to combat that.

Stuffed level up station

I also found the perks to be lackluster. I really like that you gain experience points and level up as you defeat waves of enemies, using the XP to upgrade your perks at the Level Up Station. But when most are percentage upgrades to your health, ammo, or sprint speed, it leaves something more unique to be desired. For example, the most exciting perk I found gave you unlimited sprint, which comes in handy, but there isn’t really a need for it when the game features teleporters all over the map. 

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On the other hand, the abilities you find are fun. Whether knocking enemies back or befriending them, turning them to your side before they explode, it adds a nice amount of randomness to your playthroughs, which I found fairly repetitive after a few hours of playing. That being said, I only played single-player, and STUFFED feels like the kind of game you play with friends. It has online multiplayer, which I attempted, but unfortunately couldn’t find a match.

The story leaves plenty to be desired, but that’s okay

sock monsters on door

In terms of story, STUFFED doesn’t offer much, but that isn’t a negative. Outside of its premise of “teddy bears protecting their owner,” there isn’t any story to experience. Instead, the focus has clearly all gone into the gameplay, which is off to a great start for Waving Bear Studio. 

Since the game is in Early Access, Waving Bear could eventually add a narrative to STUFFED, but I have no information to assume they would. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as pressing a button, so I would understand if there was never a story. But it could add to an already entertaining game, especially if they followed in Call of Duty’s footsteps, which saw major success with their Easter-egg-focused narrative in Zombies

The mechanics are very promising

foosball gun pointed at ducks

Although the gameplay can get repetitive after hours of play, STUFFED’s mechanics set it apart from other FPS survival games and give it a promising future. The biggest draw is the game’s procedurally generated map, giving players an entirely new house to explore every game. The rooms stay the same, but the layout of the map changes, making exploring each version of the house one of my favorite aspects. 

By the time you’re deep into the rounds, the map is almost so big you can get lost in it, which makes the game even more challenging when you get an on-screen notification telling you the nightmares are breaking down Ellie’s door.

While Waving Bear could’ve easily forced players to remember the current map’s layout, they included handy teleporters that bring you back to Ellie’s bedroom door, ensuring you return with enough firepower to take down the nightmares. And the game forces you to explore as much of the house as possible. If you don’t, you’ll be stuck with the starting weapons, which can take down the first nightmare you encounter but will barely tickle ones that arrive in later rounds. 

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Overall, I enjoyed my time with STUFFED, and the game has a bright future if Waving Bear continues improving it in Early Access. After a couple of content updates and fine-tuning some minor gameplay issues (there were plenty of times buttons wouldn’t register until after multiple clicks), I could see STUFFED becoming a go-to for casual game nights with friends.

STUFFED is now available in Early Access on PC and a demo on Xbox.


Stuffed poster

Release Date: December 9, 2021 (Early Access)
Genre: FPS Wave Survival
Players: 1-4
Platforms: PC and Xbox
Developer: Waving Bear Studio

Overview: A spooky teddy bear first-person shooter where you defend your owner from waves of her nightmares. Play solo or join your friends in up to 4-player online co-op.

Have you played STUFFED? What was your favorite part about the game? What would you like the developers to add to the game? Let us know what you think on social media. Keep following The Illuminerdi for more content like this. We’re always watching.

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Danny Bojic

Danny Bojic is a writer located in Nashville, TN, who's had a lifelong obsession with video games, comics, movies, and other nerdy things. He's written thousands of articles on topics ranging from movies, TV, and comics to automotive, tech, and video games. With The Illuminerdi, he's attended countless press events, covered conventions, produced online content, and interviewed talent.