The Persona series has been around for a couple of decades now, but the series has only recently begun picking up steam with Western audiences. Though the series first few titles were brought over from Japan, Persona hit its stride with the release of Persona 3. Ever since then, the games have been getting more attention, adding to an ever-growing fan base and establishing the series as a modern JRPG classic.
The success of the recent titles has led to Atlus milking some of the more popular games in the series with various spin-offs. This ranges from arena fighters to rhythm games, and while they may not be everyone’s thing, the spin-offs have actually been pretty successful ventures. But for the majority of gamers, the mainline series is where it’s at. With a good chunk of titles to choose from, here is every mainline Persona game, ranked.
8 Revelations: Persona
The first game in the series is often regarded as the weakest, though in all fairness that might be due to its initial localization being an absolute mess. Released in Japan in 1996 and released in North America later that same year, Revelations: Persona, like the rest of the games in the series prior to Persona 3, was much more similar to the SMT games.
For newer fans, this might be a bit of an adjustment; seeing as there is a notable difference in mechanics and difficulty. But once you get used to it the game is actually pretty enjoyable, showcasing what would go on to make the latter games in the series so fun. What really holds this title back though is its terrible and flawed localization. If you want to experience Revelations closer to what the developer had in mind, go for the PSP port.
7 Persona 3 Portable
Persona 3 is still one of the most popular titles in the franchise, and it was reflected in how much love the game got from Atlus over its lifespan. Though Persona 4 usurped it in popularity fairly quickly following its release, Persona 3 stands as an important entry in the series.
Persona 3 Portable is a tough port to judge. On the one hand, offering the Persona 3 experience on a handheld console, the ability to directly control party members in battle, as well as the introduction of the Fem MC were great additions to an already fantastic game. On the other, the game had to be somewhat stripped down, employing a sort of Visual Novel-cursor UI that replaced the world previously available for exploration in its predecessors. In the end, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
6 Persona 2: Innocent Sin
Of all the games in the Persona series, the titles that are constantly mentioned for not getting the love they deserve are the Persona 2 duology, composed of both Innocent Sin & Eternal Punishment. These are seen as some of the best games in the series, with newcomers often overlooking them due to how different they are in terms of mechanics when compared to the more popular entries in the series.
Innocent Sin has one of the more engaging narratives in the series and serves as the first title in the duology. It starts off a little slow (what Persona game doesn’t though?) but once it picks up, Innocent Sin is pretty hard to put down.
5 Persona 4
Persona 4 served as the series poster child for a number of years before Persona 5 swooped in and stole the spotlight. Though the game is still as popular as ever, it’s overshadowed by a far superior enhanced port (more on that later).
But there’s a reason why Persona 4 was so popular and sustained that popularity over so much time. The game fixed some issues with its battle mechanics while expanding on the social link mechanic as well. It had a loveable cast, coupled with an engaging small-town murder-mystery narrative and a fantastic score by long-time series composer Shoji Meguro. It’s aged alright over the years and stands in the shadow of its Vita port, but Persona 4 is still one of the best games in the series.
4 Persona 3 / FES
Persona 3 really kick-started the series’ popularity with Western audiences, and while there are technically three versions of the game, you can kind of lump the original title and the director’s cut, FES, together. Persona 3 is vastly different when compared to its predecessors and would serve as the blueprint for how the series would look going forward. The introduction of the social links and calendar mechanics, as well as the Tartarus, completely changed the direction the previous games had borrowed from the SMT franchise.
The game does have its faults. Later entries in the series would certainly improve and expand upon concepts introduced in Persona 3, but you have to appreciate what P3 & FES did for the series. You can still go back and enjoy these titles; however, we’d suggest FES over the original, if only for the slight changes and the epilogue the director’s cut adds in.
3 Persona 2: Eternal Punishment
The second game in the Persona 2 duology, Eternal Punishment is probably one of the best Persona titles you can get your hands on, despite how different it is from newer mainline entries. If you haven’t heard of these games up until now, then do yourself a favor and add them to your library.
Eternal Punishment made some significant improvements from Innocent Sin. The plot was just as engaging, if not even more so due to the cast and narrative already being somewhat established in the previous entry. Though it looks and feels more or less the same as its predecessor, it still manages to outdo it in every way.
2 Persona 5
The latest mainline entry, and the one that’s generating all the buzz right now, Persona 5 was certainly worth the wait for most fans of the series. After going through several delays, it finally released to universal praise from the majority of critics and fans alike. With an amazing soundtrack, stunning visuals, stylish UI, and a solid narrative, the game did not disappoint.
Persona 5 made some noticeable changes when compared to the more recent titles in the series. This is most prevalent when looking at the confidant system and battle mechanics. Confidants serve as an enhanced take on social links, while some of the game’s battle mechanics borrowed ever so slightly from the old SMT formula employed by the first few games in the series. With Persona 5 Royal already out in Japan and on the horizon for Western fans, we’ll have to wait and see just how this version holds up in the near future.
1 Persona 4 Golden
A Vita port of Persona 4, Golden stands as a favorite for many fans of the series. The game isn’t just a port, but an enhanced version of an already stellar game. Including some voice acting changes, alongside character, music, and event additions, Golden established itself as a must-play – regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of the series.
Golden released only four years after Persona 4, but it felt like a completely different game once you get into it. It really was a great move on Atlus’ part and looks to be something they’re looking to replicate with Royal. Let’s hope it can match or surpass the Golden standard.