Penny’s Big Breakaway Review – A Manic Success

After getting out from under Sega’s inept thumb, the Sonic Mania devs have made their big debut.

Penny’s Big Breakaway is a 3-D action platformer with some of the most unique movements I’ve ever seen. Before we begin, yeah, you should buy it.

I promise. No yo-yo jokes

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Penny’s Predicament

The game begins with a tutorial in which you have to get Penny to her big audition. She’s auditioning to be a part of the Emperor’s upcoming gala.

During her performance, her yo-yo becomes sentient and eats the Emperor’s clothes. Everyone views this as a purposeful act of terrorism and so, the Emperor calls upon his penguin guards to seize Penny.

Now it’s up to you to make your way through the game so that Penny can clear her name.

Trimming the grass

Adventure Awaits

There are just shy of 35 main levels, with another 15 levels being unlockable challenge levels. These challenge levels are unlocked by collecting the 3 hidden collectibles in each stage and spending them.

These 30-odd levels are split into 11 worlds. At the end of most worlds, you will encounter a boss. The variety in the bosses is pretty surprising. Some you have to fight straight up, others you must trick in a sort of mini game, some you race and others you chase.

Outside of bosses, the gameplay mainly consists of getting to the goal as efficiently and with as high a combo as possible. Combos are important because they are the main factor which influences you level score. Each level has a certain score you must reach in order to unlock a page from the scrapbook. This scrapbook works as an in-game artbook.

Your time also affects your score, but it doesn’t play as a role as you may expect. Time is really only relevant in the time attack version of each stage. In the main stages, you’re effectively playing Tony Hawk.

Pretty smooth ride for a yo-yo

Amazing Levels, Perfect Controls

The controls can be immaculate, but if the level design sucks, then no one cares. Thankfully, Penny has amazing levels.

Every level is built around the idea that there a multiple avenues of attack. Of course you can go the intended path, but the game also occasionally shows you a far-off platform and all but dares you to try and get there immediately.

This design is enforced by how perfect the controls are. You have a jump, a yo-yo button, a manual, and a series of yo-yo attacks. Each of these can be linked and everything combos off of everything. This goes a long way towards making you feel as though you’re almost inventing new ways of traversal when you jump, swing, and air dash into a manual for the 10th time.

The controls here are full of redundancies, and I mean that in a good way. Each command is mapped to two buttons. This seemed odd initially, but it’s actually perfect. Keep in mind, this game isn’t like any other 3-D platformer. It’s very much going for its own thing, and to play it like anything else would only be doing yourself a disservice.

Every command having two buttons is actually the perfect control scheme for this sort of combo-heavy game because its often much easier to slide your finger to a bumper or trigger than it is to find another face button. You can change the controls if you want, and it may sound frustrating initially, but once you hit that flow state, the default controls begins to make sense.

Outside of score-chasing and crazy combos, the traversal still feels perfect. Penny is slow and somewhat cumbersome when moving on her own, but her yo-yo makes her feel superhuman. You’ll soon realize that every single trick is some sort of movement option, and that tying these two concepts together in your mind is the key to enjoying this game.

In the air, on land, or in the water. Completely unrestricted movement

I Want More

The music is made by the same guy who did the music for Sonic Mania, and it shows. Tee Lopes does it again with his keen awareness that each track has to sound good after the 20th time.

This is a difficult game to review because, in loving it so much, I can’t tell if any of the so-called problems are exclusive to me or not.

My main issue is with incentive. My Skinner box addled brain likes getting rewarded for things, but the only thing to unlock in this game is the artbook. You can unlock the challenge levels by collecting the hidden collectibles, but these can often go against the idea of keeping your combo going or your score up. This dissonance made me feel as though I basically had to run through every level twice.

Also, you collect generic coins throughout the game, but the only thing they can be used for is one-off upgrades which can help you out in a pinch. I never bought any of these because I honestly never saw the point. Permanent upgrades aren’t a good idea either because if you tweak one aspect of the game, it’s sure to affect the rest in unforeseen ways.

This is a very longwinded way of basically saying that I would have preferred some unlockable costumes.

That being said, this is still a marvelous game. The platinum took me about 25 hours and the game is only $30. Seeing as how I’ll probably be playing through it a few more times while I wait for Dragon’s Dogma 2, that’s damn good value.

I hope there are some content updates/ dlc for this game, but if not, you should still buy it. It’s just that good.


  • Beautiful artstyle
  • Textbook level design
  • Perfect movement
  • Wonderful music


  • Superfluous coins
  • Please make DLC

Penny's Big Breakaway


A steal at twice the price. If you like platformers in any capacity, you should buy this.

Daniel Kelly
PS5 version reviewed.