All Persona games, ranked from worst to best

A Golden list of Royal proportions
Persona Series Ranking
Image: Atlus

The Persona series is a beloved group of games that tell the tale of superpowered youths trying to balance school life against the supernatural. Well, that’s at least how the last three games have worked. Persona’s beginnings are a little more complicated than that, so let’s get started with my ranked list of all the Persona games.

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11. Revelations: Persona/Shin Megami Tensei: Persona

Shin Megami Tensei Persona
Image: Atlus

The very first Persona game is a title that shares a lot in common with later entries in the series. But it’s the details that make the biggest difference. For starters, the tone of this game is much stranger than what we’d eventually get. And the battle system is clunky at best with a strange grid-based system that would get axed moving forward. It even has the first-person perspective of dungeon crawling from Shin Megami Tensei.

But you still have a big cast of characters to engage with, a mystery to unravel as the game goes on, and a brilliant soundtrack to rock out to. It’s only as low on this list because it’s the first game in the franchise and doesn’t have the identity that makes these games so much fun just yet. But if you want to see where the series began you can’t go wrong with checking it out. Just make sure you play Shin Megami Tensei: Persona for the PSP since it’s a remake of the original title.

10. Persona 2: Innocent Sin

Persona 2 Innocent Sin
Image: Atlus

You might expect Persona 2: Innocent Sin to be a step closer to the kind of games we know today. But it’s arguably the most unique game in the series with some pretty big differences. The biggest is that a lot of the cast are adults, with the protagonist and main players still being high school students. This gives Persona 2: Innocent Sin a more mature tone in some ways which its direct sequel would expand upon.

The battle system did get reworked for Innocent Sin and it resembles the other games much more closely. Plus, the first-person perspective has been cut in favor of an isometric camera. Generally speaking, Persona 2: Innocent Sin is much closer in some ways to the rest of the games, but it’s not quite the same sort of experience. But even if Persona 2 is quite low on the ranked list, it’s still worth checking out.

9. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment

Persona 2 Eternal Punishment
Image: Atlus

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is the direct sequel to Innocent Sin and puts Maya Amano in the lead role as opposed to Tatsuya in the first game. In terms of storytelling, this game is perhaps the most interesting in the series since it’s a sequel to the prior game. Therefore it’s able to expand on some characters and mechanics.

Unfortunately Persona 2: Eternal Punishment never got its remake localized in the West like Eternal Punishment. So the only real way to play the game is via the original PlayStation version. But if you can manage to get your hands on the game it truly is one the most intriguing games in the series. The storytelling is arguably the craziest in the series and it goes to some weird places. If you know, you know.

8. Persona 3: Portable

Persona 3 Portable
Image: Atlus

Persona 3 Portable is the PSP port of Persona 3 with a ton of changes to the original game. For starters, most of the explorable 3D environments are now visual novel-styled backdrops that function like menus. Dungeon gameplay has been left alone though so for the most part this is still Persona 3 at its core.

The biggest addition here is the choice of playing as the original protagonist, Makoto Yuki, or a new female character called Kotone Shiomi. Kotone comes with her own new Social Links and has an entirely different vibe from Makoto’s reserved personality. So even if you’ve played Persona 3 and its re-release FES, Portable is still very much worth your time.

7. Persona 5 Tactica

Persona 5 Tactica
Image: Atlus

If you want to experience a game with a more strategic edge, then Persona 5 Tactica is your best friend. This game takes the Phantom Thieves on yet another adventure but it’s one of those sequels that isn’t quite a continuation. It’s not as straightforward a follow-up as Strikers is. But that makes it a surprisingly strong starting point.

If you’re into tactics-based RPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics or even XCOM, you may enjoy this one. The only reason it doesn’t get higher onto the ranked list is that it’s a very different take on Persona that some may not enjoy so much. But if you’re hungry for more Phantom Thieves action, give this one a go.

6. Persona 5 Strikers

Persona 5 Strikers
Image: Atlus

Persona 5 Strikers is a direct sequel to Persona 5 and as such it is a must-play for any fan of the game. Strikers is a very different game to any other in the series though since it’s not a turn-based RPG. But this ends up working in its favor as a nice change of pace.

Strikers is instead a Musou just like Dynasty Warriors or Hyrule Warriors. However, it still has much of the identity of what makes Persona 5 so good. You’re still spending plenty of time with the Phantom Thieves, storming the palaces of evil adults, and doing it all while on summer vacation. For those that have missed the antics of the Persona 5 cast, Strikers is an absolute must-play. It’s also got one of the best soundtracks in the series so pop it on in the background while you read the rest of this list. For being a unique title, it gets a decent spot in the overall Persona ranked list.

5. Persona 4/Persona 4 Golden

Persona 4 Golden
Image: Atlus

Persona 4 and its re-release, Golden, is sometimes considered to be the best game in the series. This mostly comes down to taste at the end of the day and as you can see by its ranking, it’s not one of my favorites. But all the hallmarks of the modern entries are here in this game with Social Links, a wonderful town to explore, and the full calendar system.

At its core, Persona 4 is a murder mystery set in a small town with a close-knit community. So the game does manage to tell an interesting story for the most part. But it’s the cast of the game that brings everything together. Yosuke, Chie, Yukiko, Kanji, Rise, Teddie, and all of the supporting characters bring so much to the experience. Persona 4 is by far one of the coziest experiences in all of gaming. It also spawned one of the coolest spin-offs in history with Persona 4 Arena.

4. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
Image: Atlus

As I just mentioned, Persona 4 Arena is one of the coolest spin-offs in the series. And with its re-release, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, it’s an even better experience. Not only is this game a sequel to Persona 4 base game, but it also has some characters from Persona 3 making an appearance in Ultimax.

Persona 4 Arena was developed by Arc System Works which is one of the best fighting game developers right now. It’s famous for developing the Guilty Gear series, as well as DNF Duel, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle. And that makes Persona 4 Arena Ultimax an unlikely but beautiful match-up. Even if you’ve never played a fighting game, if you love Persona 4 then Arena needs to be on your radar. Persona 4 Arena gets a higher ranked spot than the original game purely for how cool it is.

3. Persona 3/Persona 3 FES

Persona 3 Fes
Image: Atlus

And here’s where everything truly began for the series. Persona 3 is the game that introduces the calendar system, Social Links, and the battle system that’s still in use today with minor tweaks in later entries. I still consider Persona 3 to be one of the best games in the series aesthetically so it scores pretty high in thr ranked list.

There’s a lot of stuff in this game that can be contentious within the fanbase though. And chief among them is Tartarus, Persona 3’s main dungeon that consists of around 250 floors of the same basic gameplay loop. Not that it’s a problem for me because I love working my way up this tower. But it’s not for everyone which is why some prefer Persona 4. Still, Persona 3 has a brilliant cast and an intriguing plot to boot. Mass Destruction is also one of the best battle themes in all of gaming.

2. Persona 5/Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 Royal
Image: Atlus

Persona 5 and its re-release are most likely going to be your introduction to the series these days. And there’s no better way to start playing through the series. Royal is especially fantastic with almost all of its additions fundamentally improving the base game for the better. To the point that there’s no reason to bother with the original release of Persona 5.

It’s oozing with style, has moments of incredible depth with its characters, and has the most fun battle system in the entire series. I’d also say it’s the funniest with some incredible moments between its cast. But for me, it’s the Third Semester content in Royal that brings this package together. It’s an addition that weaves all of the game’s core moments and themes into one brand-new dungeon with a new tragic antagonist. It also serves to give greater depth to some of the game’s characters that didn’t get enough time in the original game. But for as good as it is, Persona 5 Royal doesn’t quite get to the top of the ranked list.

1. Persona 3 Reload

Persona 3 Reload
Image: Atlus

Something special happens you remake a game that was already incredible but is now injected with the lessons learned from modern design. A lot of the time there’s the risk that the new title is diluted in some way. But with Persona 3 Reload, the experience has only been enhanced. With new optional scenes, a slightly revamped battle system, and stellar visuals, Persona 3 Reload is the definitive way to experience this story.

It’s still mostly the same experience as the original Persona 3, along with a few additions from FES. But it’s dripping with the same sort of visual flair that made Persona 5 unforgettable. Sincerely, just flickering through Persona 3 Reload’s menus is a fun time all on its own. Frankly, the only problem I have with Reload is that the battle theme is a little weak compared to the original version. But that’s such a minor nitpick when the rest of the game is as brilliant as it is.

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Author
Sam Robins
Sam has been a Contributing Writer for PC Invasion since November 2021. After escaping university with a Master’s degree in Media and Communication, he decided to take up the mantle of writing. From covering the news to crafting guides, he'll take any chance to pick apart whatever he's currently playing. Sam spends most of his time delving into JRPGs and horror games. When he isn't obsessing over the intricacies of Kingdom Hearts he's diving headfirst into the world of tech. Keeping an eye out for the next big purchase that's sure to upset his wallet.