Persona is a video-game franchise and series, developed, marketed and distributed by Atlus in Japan and many other distributors for the rest of the world. Also known as ‘Shin Megami Tensei: Persona’, the game series has gone on to sell millions of instalments and copies of the many games that populate the gaming side of the franchise.
Created by Kouji Okada and Kazuma Kaneko, the series consists of a whopping 21 games; that includes all versions and any offshoots ported for mobile devices. Persona is a series of RPG (role-playing games) that have spanned a good part of Japanese domestic production from 1996 on the original PlayStation to its latest release: Persona 5: Strikers, which was released in Japan in February 2020. However, we will see all the Persona games ranked in this passage here.
While the series is very extensive and has a franchise system that collates with anime and manga series that give it a story’s shape, with 21 games on nearly all gaming devices, the main ones follow a numerical series; starting from Revelations: Persona (considered the first Persona game, released in 1996), Persona 2: Innocent Sin (released in 1999) and Eternal Punishment (released in 2000), Persona 3 (released in 2006), Persona 4 (released in 2008) and Persona 5 (released in 2016).
The rest of the game son the chronological series are either remakes, versions, or simply DLC’s branded as a separate game. These six games are the core games of the Persona series, which we will rank by popularity and gameplay.
Core Persona Games, Ranked
These Persona games ranked are not the total of 21 games in the series; rather the six core games that have subsequently spawned remakes and DLC’s in their own release time periods. Without any further ado, here are the six major Persona games, ranked. Click here to read more articles.
Revelations: Persona (6th Place):
On the sixth place at our Persona games ranked list, we have the first instalment of the series. Titled Revelations: Persona, while the first game was pretty good in the sense that RPG’s of that time were mostly concentrating on guns, violence and missions including brute force and Persona had started off the psychological and dialogue-based RPG niche that so many game developers are now just tapping into.
The game is set in the fictional town of Mikage-cho in Japan, where a group of high-school students’ band together to face and survive an outbreak of demons which have overrun their town.
While the game offers some pretty basic battle commands like attack or defense, it also introduced the option of ‘Contact’, which prompted the player to talk to the foe standing infront, possibly hinting towards a peaceful conflict resolution.
The protagonists in the game are granted a power to summon their personas, defined as ‘a personification of the power of their hidden selves’, which help them in battles throughout the game.
Persona 2: Innocent Sin (5th Place):
The fifth place is occupied by the second entry in the series overall. While this particular game was very well-received by fans of the series, the fact that many people don’t know is that it was essentially a sequel to the first game and wasn’t designed from the ground up as a standalone title, which gives it the 5th spot on the list of Persona games ranked.
The game follows a student of ‘Seven Sisters High’ named Tatsuya Suou, who must put an end to many rumours about the town that are reality-altering statements and threaten both the town and its many inhabitants.
While the gameplay was relatively untouched, it was the character development and the story mode that puts this particular game on the 5th place. The story was described as a ‘bot shallow’ and without much depth that these games are usually well-known for. Plus, the character development was a bit lazy and unfinished on the part of the storywriters.
Persona 4 (4th Place):
On the 4th place, we have the fifth title of the series chronologically, titled just Persona 4. This game was better than the first and the second one, but not its direct predecessor, Persona 3.
This particular game follows Yu Narukami, who is also a high-school student (like the majority of protagonists in the Persona series), who upon his relocation to another town within his region, involves himself in the investigation of several mysterious murders that take place during his stay there.
As a young person, he also gains the ability to summon Personas, which are powerful beings created by the inner selves of their conjurers. While it drew inspiration from the murder mystery novels of the time, the story wasn’t well-received and many called it a rip-off of said novels.
The game was overall pretty good, with the crisp graphics and the smooth battling experience, but where it fell short was the mechanics system, especially that goofy dialogue box which popped up whenever you attacked really good. This translates to a 4th place for Persona 4 on our list of Persona games ranked.
Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (3rd place):
On the 3rd place is the phenomenal Eternal Punishment, which saw the story being continued on from its predecessor from Innocent Sin, with Maya Amano handling the reins of the title.
However, the reason it is number 3 on the Persona games list is because of the storyline, which while a really good continuation of the Innocent Sin saga, failed to really set itself apart from its predecessor and establish itself as a standalone game.
Eternal Punishment saw Maya take the wheel of the series and Tatsuya (protagonist of Innocent Sin) become the supporting character.
Persona 5 (2nd place):
The runner up of this ranking is the latest in the series, the sixth instalment, which follows a student (whose pseudonym is Joker) and his fellows, who gain magical powers and battle Shadows using their Personas.
The gameplay and the graphics, story and tone really contribute to a good game, which is why it is second on the list.
Persona 3 (1st Place):
The winner of this ‘All major Persona games ranked’ is obviously the third one, due to its very developed and beautifully written story, the well-fleshed out protagonist (unnamed) and the universe which it is based on and the combat. These elements all come in play to give a unique and very rewarding Persona experience.