Joker smirks while pulling back his mask in "Persona 5" promo art
(Atlus)

Every ‘Persona’ Game, Ranked

What do Jungian psychology, Tarot, and Judeo-Christian mysticism all have in common? Persona. Part turn-based JRPG, part dating sim the Persona series has become one of the most successful video game franchises of all time. So here they are, every single damn Persona game ranked worst to best.

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16. Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight

Cover art for "Persona: Dancing In Moonlight"
(Atlus)

Persona 4: Dancing in Moonlight is a shining example of what doesn’t make Persona games great. Persona soundtracks? Usually awesome. In this? Repetitive and boring. Persona stories? Sweeping, fun, and mysterious. In this? Dance because plot. Persona characters? Arguably the best part of the series. In this? Nothing more than mannequins for funny costumes. Persona gameplay? Tactical turn-based JRP. In this? Dancing sim … and not a good one.

15. Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight

Ann dances in "Persona 5: Dancing In Starlight"
(Atlus)

I’m tempted to copy-paste the above review of Dancing In Moonlight, but this game is saved by allowing me to watch my fave Persona characters dance. Slay, Ann. You’re owning this. Despite the choreography thrills, the game fails to deliver any meaningful character or story moments. It’s just a reskin of Moonlight with a different cast. Boo. Except you, Ann. Do ya thing.

14. Persona 4 Arena

Teenage fighters ready weapons in "Persona 4 Arena"
(Atlus)

In classic sharp jumping Persona form, the people behind the franchise decided to make a … fighting game? I mean, alright? Persona 4 arena isn’t bad, per say. You get to duke it out with your fav Persona 4 characters in glorious real time. None of that tactical turn-based crap, real heart bumping fist to face action. The problem is it’s just not that deep. Persona games have layers, like an onion. Or Shrek. Reducing Persona to just fighting is like reducing an onion to a peel or Shrek to just swamp water.

13. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

Two fighters face off in "Persona 4 Ultimax"
(Atlus)

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is basically just Persona 4 Arena with marginal improvements. More characters. More costumes. More ability. To borrow the onion metaphor, it’s like half the onion. Or like watching half of Shrek. It’s good, but it’ll leave you wanting so much more. Besides, Persona, you gotta stay in your lane. There are just better fighting games out there. Do what you do best, give horny nerds a tactical and romantic release.

12. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

The adorable chibi "Persona Q" cast in a classroom
(Atlus)

Persona, what are we doing here? I get the sense that you’re stalling between games. And listen, I get it. Persona 5 was like 200 hours long. It took a while to make that masterpiece, but we could have waited. We didn’t need this stale breadstick of an appetizer. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is a cute crossover of P3 and P4, but cute is about all it’s got going for it. Standard Persona combat in a lesser story. And you’re gonna make me map out the dungeons myself? Persona if I wanted to draw maps I’d be a cartographer.

11. Persona 4: Dancing All Night

The cast of "Persona: Dancing All Night" looking sharp in a nightclub
(Atlus)

Okay, Persona. You win. You made a decent dancing game. You’re basically just Moonlight and Starlight but you’ve actually got a story. A ridiculous story, but hey, that’s what a dance game demands. Persona 4: Dancing All Night, you are goofy. Comical. And you know what? You made me crack a smile. The Investigation Team is forced into a world where the only way to beat their Shadow selves is with the power of dance? Fine. I’ll play it. And I’ll even tap my damn foot.

10. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth

The chibi cast of "Persona Q2"
(Atlus)

Persona Q2, you pulled a Dancing All Night. You went for the tone shift and you stuck the landing. You leaned into the goofy fluff. And sometimes in this hard-done world, goofy fluff is what is needed. Plus, who knew the combined cast of Persona 3 and Persona 5 would have so much chemistry? It’s like a Love Island episode. Thank you, Q2, for being fun. I still don’t wanna draw maps though.

9. Persona 5 Tactica 

The Phantom Thieves of Heart prepare for battle in "Persona 5 Tactica"
(Atlus)

Persona, this is your fault. You got me hooked. Addicted. By the time I had beaten Persona 5, I felt like I had graduated high school with these kids. It practically took just as long. And listen, of course I want to see the return of my favorite Persona 5 heroes (*cough* Ann *wheeze*). And yes, I WOULD like it to be in adorable chibi form. Persona 5 Tactica, you’re not the stuff that great stories are made of. You’re the stuff that lighthearted and fun little spin-offs are made upon. And that’s okay too. You’re like the chibi version of Attack On Titan. I know what I’m getting into. It won’t be an emotional rollercoaster, it’ll be more of an emotional shopping cart ride down the side of a mild hill.

8. Persona 5 Strikers

Joker attacks with Arsene in "Persona 5 Strikers"
(Atlus)

Persona, I’m starting to get the feeling that you’re not gonna stop capitalizing on the success of the mighty steed that was your fifth game by making one trick pony lesser installments of the same thing. And for now, I’m moderately okay with that. Persona 5 Strikers is a Dynasty Warriors style beat ’em up where you can take control of the Phantom Thieves and pummel Shadows to your heart’s content. Fine. I’ll do it. For the same reason I played Hyrule Warriors: a scientific interest in combos. And watching my fave characters perform them.

7. Persona

A boy mirrored against his shadow self in "Persona 1"
(Atlus)

Persona, we owe you a lot. You’re the blueprint. The OG. Without you, I wouldn’t have gotten to fall in love with the cast of Persona 5. You’re like a first high school boyfriend. You taught me a lot. I’m thankful. I’ve moved on. Your mechanics were a little messy, but you were learning too! And thanks to you, you taught me that side quests are sometimes MORE important than the main one. Where would Skyrim be without you? As for your grid-based combat system… We don’t need to say anything else. Stay in your lane, and leave that sort of thing to Fire Emblem.

6. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment

The PS 1 cover art for "Persona : Eternal Punishment"
(Atlus)

Persona 2, you’re so … mature. Like a fine wine kept in the basement, you taste nice, but you’re a little dusty. Persona 2 was a strange one because it featured a totally adult cast and told a wayyyyyy darker story than future entries. We get it, Persona. It was your moody teen years. You were still finding yourself. As for the whole plot broken into two separate games? Bold move. Shame that western audiences had to wait a decade to play both.

5. Persona 2: Innocent Sin

Persona 2: Innocent Sin's  main villain disguised as Hitler talks to protagonists
(Atlus)

Innocent Sin, what were you thinking? Your story is absolutely bonkers. A bad guy disguising himself as Hitler? How is that ANY BETTER OF A DISGUISE!? Thankfully you got rid of the grid combat system from your predecessor and created the Rumor System. You’re telling me that I get to spread rumors about people in order to receive things other than bad karma? That is so cool, and so original. Gimme them new items and plot points, and I’ll spin a yarn a mile long.

4. Persona 4: Golden

The cover art for "Persona 4: Golden" featuring the game's cast
(Atlus)

Persona 4, you’re just that. Golden. You’ve got wonderful characters. You’ve got a thrilling whodunnit plot. You’ve got cool combat, challenging bosses, and hours and hours of worldbuilding to lose oneself in. You’re not as sophisticated as Persona 5, but that’s okay. Your rough edges make you charming. In romance terms, you’re like a first great love. You aren’t perfect, you’re not supposed to end up together, but you changed lives.

3. Persona 3 Portable

A schoolgirl talks outside the school while cherry blossoms bloom in "Persona 3 Portable"
(Atlus)

Persona 3, are you telling me that I get to choose between two different protagonists? And that those different protagonists allow me to pursue different stories and (more importantly) romance options? I don’t care if your main dungeon is a bit repetitive, you’ve won me, body and soul. Your plot takes a little time to get going but it’s a train bound for glory… and some seriously dark places as well. And your final boss? Mwah. Chef’s kiss.

2. Persona 5

Joker smirks while pulling back his mask in "Persona 5" promo art
(Atlus)

Persona 5, you are a magnum opus. How. Just how. A charming cast. An engaging story. An intricate world. A sophisticated battle system. An absolute banger upon banger soundtrack. You, my friend, are marriage material. You’re the culmination of the very best bits of the series. You hit your stride. You found your place. You’re one of the most celebrated games of the past decade. And you have a hot goth doctor of questionable morals for me to romance and then feel bad about? Oh Persona 5, you know me too well.

1. Persona 5 Royal

The full cast of "Persona 5: Royal" appear on promo art
The full cast of “Persona 5: Royal” appear on promo art (Atlus)

Persona 5, you were perfect, and then you turn around and do THIS!? I’m even more head over heels for you than I thought I could be! New Phantom Thieves? New confidants? A new SEMESTER!? Who would have thought that more school would be EXACTLY what I wanted? Not to mention your giant expanded epilogue that functions as a whole other game. Persona 5 Royal, I could play you and replay you for the rest of my life. I think I’ll start today.

(featured image: Atlus)


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.