Penny's Big Breakaway comes from some of Sonic Mania's key contributors, and you can certainly see and feel the influences. This 3D platformer encourages speed, using momentum to your advantage, and exploring colourful, open levels, much like SEGA's mascot series. Despite the through-line, however, this game's core mechanics set it apart from its genre peers — even if it takes some getting used to first.

Penny's living, cosmic yo-yo is both companion and enabler for some super fun manoeuvrability. After initially struggling with the controls — which encourage sending out the yo-yo with the right stick and jumping with R1, although face buttons can be used — we eventually settled into them and discovered the game's rhythm. Once it clicks, chaining together Penny's mid-air swing, air dash, and riding the yo-yo along the ground feels great. Much of the level design encourages maximising momentum to escape those pesky pursuing penguins and find collectibles, mid-level objectives, and alternate paths. There's a good amount here to encourage replaying stages, not to mention aiming to improve your times and scores.

Combined with the attractive visual style and some proper ear-worm music, there's a lot to like about this title. However, it isn't without its issues. There are several examples of collision simply not working how it should; we've had to agree to the licence agreement every new day we boot it up; and the end-of-level minigame won't register certain inputs. Furthermore, some of the boss fights are fun but others are hard to read and difficult to combat with Penny's abilities.

So, Penny's Big Breakaway is a flawed gem in the end. Once you're comfortable with the controls, the fundamental gameplay works very nicely indeed, and there are some fantastic levels (especially in the latter half) which really accentuate this game's unique ideas. It's a shame it's launched with some unusual bugs, as they take the shine off of an imaginative 3D platformer with lots of potential. Hopefully, after a few updates, this promising debut from Evening Star will please the crowds with a tighter performance.