PS5/Xbox Series X/S Review: Penny’s Big Breakaway

Can you spare a penny for my thoughts?

Join Penny & Yo-Yo in a kinetic 3D-platformer bursting with innovative gameplay! Showcase your catalogue of tricks and chain impressive combos to deliver Penny & Yo-Yo’s perfect breakout performance. Penny is a street performer with big dreams; she has her own spin on what it takes to be a star! When Eddie the Emperor calls for new Palace Court Performers, Penny gets herself tangled in an audition she’ll never forget. A strange encounter with a Cosmic String transforms Penny’s Yo-Yo into a living creature with an appetite for snacks – and mayhem! Use Yo-Yo to help Penny clear her name, outrun the Emperor’s penguin army, and unravel the mystery of the Cosmic String. Discover your true star power in this easy-to-play, difficult-to-master challenge.

Penny’s Big Breakaway comes from the minds of Evening Star, a studio founded in 2018 by the developers of Sonic Mania and creatively led by Christian Whitehead. As a life-time Sonic fan and also of what they did with Sonic Mania, I was curious to see what they would do with a new IP at their fingertips.

The game isn’t anything like Sonic Mania in its design, if anything it’s more akin to more modern Sonic games like Sonic Adventure with it’s 3D and fast-paced platforming. Penny uses the yo-yo to get around by using it as a grappling hook, a vehicle and also uses it to attack incoming enemies which try to stop her in massive numbers of penguins.

Penny can shake away the enemies that manage to cling onto her, but if too many do then it’s game over. Each level has hidden items and secondary objectives like taking a specific item from one person to another person. The levels are nicely varied and designed well, with a different vibe going into each world.

Boss fights are also impressive with multiple stages, but don’t go into this game thinking because it’s all cutesy that it’s easy. It can be brutal at times when hundreds of penguins are descending on you or during some chase sequence, and the aforementioned boss fights do have their challenging moments. Each is unique in their design and I was impressed overall with the quality on display here.

The controls are easy to get to grips with but can be a bit clunky when trying to do things like accelerating the yo-yo vehicle for short bursts in a tight situation. The camera does a few issues but is mostly fine, but the real issue is the sporadic checkpoints which can result in having to replay a good section of the game to get back to the part you failed on.

The visuals are cute and charming with bright, vibrant colours flowing throughout. It may look simplistic in its design, but it’s still a good-looking game overall. The framerate is consistent throughout, load times are short and the music is also cutesy as you can imagine. I didn’t notice any differences in performance between the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions.

The Verdict

Penny’s Big Breakaway isn’t what I expected from the brains of Sonic Mania, but in a good way. Evening Star have shown that they are more than capable of pulling off a highly enjoyable retro-esque 3D platformer. It may have a few issues with it’s controls and difficulty, but overall it’s a superb game that deserves your attention.

Score: 8.5

Disclaimer: Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this product from Thank you Private Division for sending me Penny’s Big Breakaway