Penny’s Big Breakaway – Review

Penny’s Big Breakaway is a modern take on an old-school journey, evoking the spirits of classics like Sonic the Hedgehog, enveloping us in a warm nostalgic embrace

Penny's Big Breakaway

Penny’s Big Breakaway is a 3D Platformer developed by Evening Star and published by Private Division. Released on February 21, 2024, for PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, and Xbox Series X/S, it takes us back to bygone times, evoking vibes from the nineties to the early 2000s.

The game’s vibrant and dynamic mood, bright colors, and character aesthetics immediately immerse the player in a relaxed and serene state, and for older players, certainly in a nostalgic one. The intent is to entertain with carefreeness.

The Trend of Talent Shows

Talent shows are becoming increasingly popular as programs and spectacles, and the success of such formats is understandable. The initial concept of Penny’s Big Breakaway, therefore, is already intriguing in itself.

The story begins in this context of auditions, nervousness, emotions, and trepidations, arising from the progress of the competition and especially from the initial auditions.

It’s interesting how we are immediately introduced to what we could call the villain of the situation, Emperor Eddie – a nickname he gave himself – who strangely decided to open the Gala auditions, as it’s called, to others besides himself. Why, we don’t yet know.

Penny's Big Breakaway characters

Penny’s Big Breakaway doesn’t claim to provide an intricate storytelling experience; however, the character of Emperor Eddie is extensively described right from the start through the comments and dialogues of various NPCs. Some praise him, others mock him, but in the end, they provide a fairly three-dimensional description.

Let’s say that, to support the gameplay, the undisputed protagonist of this title, Evening Star has tried to make sense and write a story, simple but still well-crafted, in its own way.

Penny, Our Heroine

Penny, our protagonist, is an acrobat, particularly skilled in the use of the Yo-Yo. All her abilities and acrobatics are based almost exclusively on the use of this instrument.

In addition to the obvious jumping ability, Penny can perform a double jump, hang in mid-air, and swing with her Yo-Yo, run, and attack.

For the latter two actions, a more detailed explanation is needed. Penny can use the Yo-Yo as a means of transportation to cross ramps and areas of the map where good speed is necessary for overcoming obstacles.

The Yo-Yo is also an offensive weapon with which the protagonist can defend herself from enemies. Penny can rotate the Yo-Yo by spinning herself, or perform a double attack that propels her forward.

The range of actions we can perform is quite extensive, considering also the interactions with the surrounding environment that involve the Yo-Yo. While there is some roughness and a certain feeling of imprecision in executing moves, the most problematic ones remain the offensive ones.

Old-School 3D Platformer Style

Penny’s Big Breakaway certainly harks back to the tradition of old-school 3D platformers. The distribution of worlds and their respective mechanisms, along with gimmicks, are well laid out and are fundamental parts of the design of the various stages.

Penny’s Big Breakaway spans across 11 worlds, each composed of sub-levels. The distribution of these latter ones is somewhat peculiar, as one world can have up to 5 sub-levels plus a boss fight, while others have only 2, concluding without a boss or particular events.

Penny’s Big Breakaway bioma

Classic biomes with lava, ice, electric obstacles, and all the clichés of this genre are present, although the game also presents interesting and original ideas. The distribution of sub-levels seems not to follow a precise logic, leaving a sense of unfinished work.

Some platform elements that are constantly repeated for the various worlds have a common point, the action speed. Penny’s Big Breakaway seems to want to reference the Sonic the Hedgehog series. The sense of speed and the layout of certain levels with ramps and slides strongly resemble the SEGA platformer. We can even use the spin move like the blue hedgehog and travel on ramps to perform death loops.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Collectibles and Power-Ups

As tradition dictates, the levels feature collectibles and plenty of secrets. It’s up to us to discover the deviations from the main path, which will reward us with a prize and an actual shortcut to the level’s canonical path. There are a total of 6 collectibles: 3 token coins and 3 side missions.

The special token coins allow us to purchase special levels called Star Globes, while during normal levels, we can fulfill the requests of some of the level’s inhabitants. Fulfilling their requests, such as delivering a towel within a time limit, collecting 5 screws, and so on, will earn us a higher score at the end of the level. The other coins in the game can be used to buy power-ups to simplify our adventure.

Penny is an acrobatic artist, and at the end of each level, she must land on a stage, trying to reach the highest point, which corresponds to a higher score. In addition to this, we can complete a mini-game made up of quick-time events where the protagonist will perform some acrobatics for the audience.

The Yo-Yo can devour some power-ups that will give it special abilities to overcome environmental obstacles and progress in the level. They are cute and original, and needless to say, these abilities will be useful for finding collectibles as well. However, the problem of character collisions with certain areas of the levels and hitboxes remains.

Boss Fights and Enemy Management

Penny’s Big Breakaway boss fight

The boss fights are decidedly original and varied, carefully thought out, although unfortunately, the execution sometimes doesn’t make them shine as they deserve. The enemies are almost exclusively penguins, namely Emperor Eddie’s army.

They are essentially immortal and will chase us in a pack as soon as they notice our presence. We won’t take damage from them, but they can literally latch onto the protagonist. When 5 penguins are attached to us, we will be caught, and we’ll have to restart the level or from the checkpoint.

As interesting as the dynamics are, they are handled rather clumsily. The penguins move chaotically and glitch into the surrounding environment. The protagonist can detach them, but it’s easy for the game to take an unintended input, causing us to fall into the void. Issues with collisions, hitboxes, and geodata also significantly affect this dynamic, often causing frustration instead of excitement.

In Conclusion

Penny’s Big Breakaway is definitely an entertaining product that harks back to the legacy of old-school 3D platforms. The game is by no means a wasted opportunity because its core and ideas work, proving to be original and well-thought-out. Even the aspects that aren’t original are well executed and have their own charm.

Penny’s Big Breakaway

Unfortunately, despite the good intentions, their realization compromises some of the good ideas. Both on the aesthetic and sound side and on the refinement of collisions, hitboxes, and character interactions with jumps and the Yo-Yo. It’s common to see our character land on moving platforms and inexplicably fall into the void, fail to execute a jump command, not reach a technically accessible platform, or spin uncontrollably after landing on an area with a poorly managed hitbox. Even the management of penguins becomes problematic due to some issues with inputs.

We haven’t delved into the graphical aspect because it’s fairly basic, with its charm lying in its evocative and nostalgic nature but not offering any real original contributions or significantly enriching the gaming experience.

The overall feeling is that of a lack of general refinement of the rough edges of the product on all levels.

In short, it’s a title without great aspirations, but precisely for this reason, it gives us the opportunity to spend time carefreely.
Despite all this, I’m sure Penny’s Big Breakaway can entertain genre enthusiasts, who, despite a lack of overall refinement, can still have fun and enjoy hours of entertainment.

“Penny’s Big Breakaway is a 3D platformer that harks back to the old days, creating a positive nostalgia effect, especially for its music and graphical choices. Its core and ideas work, proving to be original and well-thought-out. Even the aspects that aren’t original are well executed and have their own charm. It has some flaws, especially on a technical level, but still guarantees hours of fun”

  • Relaxing atmospheres
  • Nostalgic effect for old-school 3D platforms
  • Good level design ideas
  • Several bugs
  • Graphics not particularly original
  • Rough edges throughout the product
SCORE: 7.2


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I’m an Italian artist who came late to the gaming world but fell in love with it right away. I’m not the best gamer, and I choose titles that appeal to my personal preferences, but I can appreciate the graphics content and artistic solutions above all, even as I learn about all the fascinating game development features.

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I’m a musician (pianist), a nerd and a longtime manga lover.
My gamer life started with a copy of Pitfall (1982) for Atari 2600, and so I grew up hand to hand with this medium until now. Later I started to look for what’s behind the final product, its design and what happens behind the scenes of the video game world.