PERSONA 5 launched Persona into the mainstream, and brought with it a whole host of new fans.
Despite the name, it’s actually the sixth entry in the main series, and a number of enhanced versions and spin-offs make up a long list of games.
With new games coming to modern consoles, you might be wondering which ones you should pick up.
So here’s our definitive ranking of all the Persona games from best to worst.
Persona 3 Portable
Persona 3 has undoubtedly the best story in the series, and of its enhanced ports, Persona 3 Portable expanded on it in the best way.
It gives you a new protagonist to play as, though cutscenes are now 2D instead of 3D.
Despite the trimming down, the addition of a new character with new social links is a big boon to the series, and the stunning 2D art style doesn’t really feel like a downgrade.
There are a few ways to play Persona’s best story, but we think Portable is the best, if only for the fact that you can control your teammates.
Persona 2: Eternal Punishment
If you’re used to Persona 5, then the playstyle of Persona 2: Eternal Punishment may be quite a shock to you.
The relationship-building aspect wasn’t introduced until 3, and Eternal Punishment is more of an isometric dungeon crawler.
Don’t let this put you off; the story is one of the series’ best, and has some really tricky boss fights that you need strong Personas to take down.
Add to that branching storylines and difficult-to-get characters and we were hooked. The PSP version has a number of quality-of-life changes and the one we recommend.
Persona 5 Royal
Now to the game everyone has played, and with good reason. It brings a lot to the series, and the Royal upgrade is even better.
There’s a new protagonist, new characters to recruit, and one of the best battle systems in the series.
Dungeons aren’t procedurally generated for the first time, giving them a greater feeling of purpose.
Royal is one of the greatest games of all time, and also one of the best Persona games.
Persona 4 Golden
For a long time, Persona 4 Golden was only available to PS Vita owners, but now it has been set free on modern consoles.
Another cracker of a story, you play as a city boy who is suddenly shipped off to the countryside.
Battles follow the P3P model, where you can control everyone, and one of the social links is an exceptionally demanding fox.
Social Links are easier to maximise here, and you’ll see quite a few of your friends at the end of your travels.
Persona 3 Fes
There are two schools of thought. Either you take Portable’s extra protagonist, social links, and upgraded battle system, or you take Fes.
Fes adds a prologue to the Persona 3 story with some devilishly difficult boss fights and plenty of added story.
If you’re desperate for more of Persona 3’s story, then Fes is probably the version you want to go for.
Just know that the battle system can be a lot more difficult to handle without control of your allies.
Persona 2: Innocent Sin
The original PS One version of Innocent Sin had some interesting localisation choices, but these have been reversed in the PSP version.
This is the sister game to Eternal Punishment, so as you can expect, it has a fantastic story and some brutal fights.
It also has the first romance options, as the bisexual protagonist Tatsuya, can choose between Lisa, Maya — the protagonist of Eternal Punishment, and Jun, a male love interest.
Oh yea, and did I forget to mention, the bad guy in this one is Hitler. A real story choice for the ages.
Persona 3 Dancing In Moonlight
The Dancing spin-off series of Persona games are genuinely great rhythm games with a delightful range of difficulty.
This one gets docked points because you can’t play as Koromaru — your dagger-wielding dog friend — but the soundtrack is untouched.
If you think Persona 5’s soundtrack is one for all time, then you need to give this one a listen.
Added character cutscenes, a chance to look around their room, and some fun outfits and accessories are just the icing on the cake.
Persona 5 Dancing In Starlight
See above with a slightly worse, but still impeccable, soundtrack.
If you don’t have Royal, then Persona 5 is still one to be played, and the original doesn’t remove as much content as some of the others.
Persona 5 is exceptionally long in and of itself, so some might find the added content in Royal daunting to say the least.
Royal is still the way to play, but if you feel the story needs condensing, this might be the way to go.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona
If you like Eternal Punishment and Innocent Sin, then the remake of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona is definitely one to play.
This story is quite a bit shorter than the sequels and doesn’t really give the characters as much room to breathe.
What really places this below the others is the final boss fight, which has a steep difficulty curve as it can do multiple attacks in a row.
Still, if you like the level grind, you should definitely try the OG game.
The worst version of Persona 3 is the original PS2 version. But it is still Persona 3, and as such rightly slaps.
Same as above, but replace 3 with 4.
Persona 4 Dancing All Night
This is a very different take on the Persona rhythm games, as this one came out first.
It adds a new character and a new storyline for her, but to be honest it isn’t up to Persona’s calibre.
Dancing All Night is still worth playing, as it has the soundtrack for Persona 4 which never falters.
However, the rhythm game part isn’t as refined as the later games, which means it’s lower on this list.
Persona 5 Strikers
If you are a fan of Persona games, and musou games, then Strikers is definitely one for you.
It’s a strong entry in the musou genre, and has battles that will keep you on your toes.
The characters all have interesting tactics and abilities that show the developers really put some thought into this one.
It just feels a bit of a strange departure for the series, but not a bad game in its own right.
Persona Q2: New Cinema
The Persona Q games are another spin-off series that serve as sort of a fan disc for people who love the mainline.
Here you can use characters from Persona 3, 4 and 5, including our spurning friend Koromaru.
It’s a basic dungeon crawler, so you will get more of that aspect of Persona, and less of the character-building and story.
But if you want more Persona, it could be worth picking up.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
Same as above but with no characters from Persona 5, making it inferior.
This is the real OG. The PS One version of the original Persona game, and it will give you whiplash if you are used to Persona 5.
The PSP version brings so many quality-of-life changes, that the PlayStation version sorely needed, and we don’t recommend you play this one.
Add to it that the original game is even more difficult than the PSP version, and you’re sure to smash your controller.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
No one asked for a fighting game where your beloved Persona characters fight each other, but they sure did make one.
It’s not really for Persona fans, as it doesn’t add much to the series, and it’s not really for fighting fans, as the combat system isn’t very deep.
We recommend you avoid this one, unless you are desperate.
Persona 4 Arena
The same as above but somehow worse.
Written by Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.
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