Mitch’s Game Corner: Penny’s Big Breakaway Review

Mitchell Lineham
5 min readFeb 29, 2024

I’m just one among many who were disappointed to learn that Christian Whitehead and the team weren’t returning for a second Sonic Mania game, but when I learned that they’d put together their own team, Evening Star, I knew they’d cook up something special. I love Sonic the Hedgehog, and I still play each of his games if they release on Nintendo or Sony systems, but Penny’s Big Breakaway is what I wish Sonic Superstars was.

Penny’s Big Breakaway follows the titular street performer Penny, who is on the run as a fugitive for embarrassing Emperor Eddie at his annual gala. She stumbles across a cosmic string which brings her yo-yo to life, and during her act it decides to steal Eddie’s clothes, leaving him in his underwear. Of course, Eddie is unhappy with this and sends his legion of penguins to capture her, despite the success of her act.

What follows is the ups and downs of yo-yo life as Penny escapes detainment and finds a way to clear her name. It’s not a story-driven game, but one that is propelled forward by just how great traversal feels. Once you get the hang of Penny and her yo-yo, you’ll be speeding along and performing different tricks to reach all of the game’s hidden collectibles and secret routes. It’s a blast and feels phenomenal to play, to the point that I went for the Platinum trophy and still yearned for more.

Each stage has 3 show pieces to collect, and 3 denizen dilemmas to solve, which act as the game’s hidden objects and side-missions respectively. Some of them can be a little tricky, but all in all they’re not particularly difficult, but I did have a fun time seeking them out. Just like the game itself, they’re fast-paced and swift, unable to slow down the momentum of the ever-speeding yo-yo.

As you’ve probably surmised, all of the gameplay mechanics revolve around Penny’s yo-yo. You attack with it, you can ride it like a little momentum-based segway, and you can swing from it like a vine, meaning there’s plenty to get to grips with if you’re going to tackle the game’s time attack modes. These can all be strung together several times, and I’m sure you could complete several stages without Penny’s feet touching the floor.

There are a bunch of power ups too to increase your yo-yo’s strength, speed and more. Again, this just feels great to play, and you unlock extra challenges in their own bite-sized stages, putting everything you’ve learned to the test in a series of swift obstacle courses.

The game oozes style and harks back to the golden platformer days from the likes of the PlayStation 2, Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast era, complete with a crisp and clean polygonal look that I couldn’t get enough of. We’re back to worlds encased in ice, overflowing with lava, or one that’s even inspired by what seems to be a big bubble bath/sauna of some sort, and even one space library, and I was excited to see what the next world would be themed around. Seeing so many colours come together, fantastic effects in combat and traversal, and a few unique touches that people have come to expect from the team behind Evening Star made this a true eye-catcher.

Tee Lopes (Sonic Mania, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge) and Sean Bialo (Donut Dodo, Double Dragon Gaiden) share composing duties on Penny’s Big Breakaway, and it’s a real treat. Both of their styles come together so well I genuinely thought this only had one composer for a moment, so I appreciate just how talented both must be to work together on separate tracks, yet sound so in sync, so spectacularly. It’s a fun, eclectic combination of styles, providing an upbeat collection of stunning tracks which I’ve been happily revisiting on Spotify.

Penny’s Big Breakaway, to me, is a game that really captures the essence of what makes a game fun. Between how fun, yet simple, using a yo-yo as a core mechanic is, to the various distinct and wonderful worlds (of which there are 11), and music that feels like fun was injected directly into the instruments, it’s hard to not have a smile on your face when playing this one. Genuinely, such a lovely and happy game to play, and being able to finish each stage by pulling off a few tricks and earn some extra money for your performance by an enraptured audience? Very cute.

Evening Star has a fan in me, and I’d love to see Penny return in the future, and if not, then I’ll look forward to whatever else Evening Star is brainstorming on behind the scenes. I wish them the best of luck, and I hope to see more stage-based platformers come into play. I don’t mind an open-world collectathon, but being able to blast through a stage, master it, and collect everything along the way? That has me written all over it.

I might not be setting any record times, though.

I played Penny’s Big Breakaway on PS5.

Penny’s Big Breakaway is developed by Evening Star, and published by Private Division. You can buy it now on PS5, Nintendo Switch, PC and Xbox Series X/S. A copy of the game was purchased for this Penny’s Big Breakaway review, and was not provided by the publisher.



Mitchell Lineham

Writing "The Presence of Eve", repped by Tiger Lily Publishing Co. | Hang around for Otome and Games | Mostly active here, Instagram, Letterboxd and Goodreads