Every Persona Game Ranked

Every Persona Game Ranked: Best Persona Game Revealed

The Persona series has been running since 1996, with several decades at this point of Atlus’ incredible JRPG franchise. The classic elements remain throughout the decades, including the turn-based combat, various Personas you collect, and the character-driven adventures. But much has changed and been shaped throughout the years to include spin-off games and expanded versions of existing titles. But which is the best? That is what I aim to answer with every Persona game ranked below.

There is a total of nearly 20 Persona games released at this point in time, across both the mainline series and the spin-offs. I have played every single game on this list at least once (or at least checked it out for a bit, in the case of the dancing games) and come up with what I think is the definitive list of every Persona game ranked from worst to best. I will note the games you shouldn’t play these days, in addition to the overall answer of the best game in the series.

persona 5 game

Bottom Line Up Front

There are 19 total Persona games and counting at the time of writing, eliminating some of the double entries and re-releases of the exact same game on different platforms. This includes the six base mainline games, the various spin-offs, and the several definitive versions of the main games.

If I had to pick a single game out of this list to be the best Persona game of all time, it would have to be Persona 5 Royal. It takes the already masterful Persona 5 experience. It amps it up to one of the best video games ever made, with a much better storyline, unmatched new content, and the best characters in the series.

Selection Criteria

When it came to ranking all of the Persona games, it mostly came down to my personal preference. I’ve played all of these games and beat most of them, giving me some direct insight into comparing all of them. I tried to keep my bias out of it somewhat and look mostly objectively at the best game of all time. That is why you won’t find my favorite game in the series at number one. Here are the criteria I used:

  • Quality: When it came to older games, I tried to give a bit of a pass in this regard since their quality is likely much less than the more modern games. But, in general, was the experience a high-quality one when it first came out?
  • Gameplay: There are so many different games on this list, each with its own takes on gameplay, from turn-based to rhythm to fighting games to even action RPG mechanics. No matter what type of gameplay the title has, it needs to be the best it can possibly be.
  • Fun Factor: This is essential for any video game. The more fun I had playing a Persona game, the better the chances of it going up higher in the list.
  • Content: While the game doesn’t have to be massive, the content that is there needs to be extraordinary to rise up through the list. I’m not here for unnecessary filler content and boring endgame activities.
  • Persona Factor: This is a Persona list, so the games that did little to push the franchise forward or represent the titular Persona well enough certainly lost some points on my ranking.
  • Replayability: Persona games are some of the only video games in existence that I like to replay, but there are some that I will never replay again. That is counterintuitive to the series’ hallmark feature, in my opinion.
  • Characters: I would argue that the Persona series is a character-driven adventure, so if the characters pale compared to other entries, that is a huge knock against it.
  • Story: While the storyline isn’t everything, it matters a lot in determining where a game is ranked on this list.

All Persona Games Ranked

Without further ado, let’s dive into all Persona games that have been made up until this point. Of the 19 games that we currently, here are all of them ranked from worst to best. Did your favorites make the top of the list? Find out below.

19. Revelations: Persona

revelations persona

  • Release Date: September 20, 1996 (Japan)
  • Platforms: PlayStation 1, Windows
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Genre: First-person, dungeon-crawler, JRPG

It all began in 1996 with the original Revelations: Persona, and this list happens to start with it, too. Sadly, the original Atlus game in the Persona franchise is also the worst of the bunch. Part of it has to do with that anyone trying out this game in the current age is in for some frustration.

The other part comes from how horrible the localization was at the time, leaving out an entire set of content. Ignoring the possibly controversial localization choices this PlayStation 1 game made, the gameplay has not aged well at all. Exploration is in a messy first-person dungeon-crawling view, with battles taking place on a convoluted grid-based system.

Revelations: Persona’s story and characters don’t even make up for the frustrating gameplay, making it hard to recommend in this form. But at least the music was quite good.

18. Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight

persona 3 dancing in moonlight

  • Release Date: May 24, 2018
  • Platforms: PS4, PlayStation Vita
  • Developer: Atlus, P-Studio
  • Genre: Rhythm, music, visual novel

Speaking of music, Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight took the dancing rhythm gameplay from Persona 4: Dancing All Night and handed it over to the SEES characters. The gameplay is fine and dandy, but it’s just a copycat version of what we already saw in the previous spin-off title.

The main issue comes from the fact that this game does little to warrant its existence outside of providing the chance to make characters like Makoto and Junpei dance around. It lacks the storyline and intriguing extra content that made Persona 4: Dancing All Night a fan-favorite experience.

Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight

persona 5 dancing in starlight

  • Release Date: May 24, 2018
  • Platforms: PS4, Vita
  • Developer: Atlus, P-Studio
  • Genre: Rhythm, music, visual novel

Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight is basically like the Pokemon Red to Dancing in Moonlight’s Pokemon Blue. There are almost no differences besides the playable characters in this game. In fact, those playable characters are the only reason Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight barely edges out in the end.

Instead of the SEES or Persona 4’s Investigation Team, you play as the members of the Phantom Thieves. Though it lacks some of the later members like Kasumi, you still get to dance around as Goro Akechi, Ann, Morgana, and everyone else in the cast. This could’ve been a fantastic spin-off title if it had the content that its predecessor had.

16. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona

shin megami tensei persona

  • Release Date: April 29, 2009
  • Platforms: PlayStation Portable
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Genre: JRPG, first-person, dungeon-crawler

Sorry to dig on the original Persona game once more, but the PSP remake of the first game in the series is the one you should play if you have to play this game. It was the first Persona game I ever played since I wanted to start from the beginning first, and I somewhat regretted it in the end.

The graphics are a bit better, but the gameplay is still the mess it remains, and that was a decade ago when I played it. Today, it’s even worse. The first-person dungeon-crawling is confusing and too time-consuming, almost requiring you to use a walkthrough or else go mad from figuring out everything.

The turn-based battles don’t resemble the modern games in the slightest, feeling more like a tactical RPG at best, and not in a good way. Still, this is the best way to experience the first Persona game, complete with the Snow Queen storyline and more adequate localization. At least the music remains phenomenal.

15. Persona 4: Dancing All Night

persona 4 dancing all night

  • Release Date: June 15, 2015
  • Platforms: PS4, Vita
  • Developer: P-Studio, Atlus
  • Genre: Rhythm, music, visual novel

Atlus gave the fun-loving members of the Investigation Team a fitting spin-off experience in Persona 4: Dancing All Night. No combat here as it is all about busting out your moves on the dance floor as Rise, Chie, and the other Persona 4 party members.

The gameplay is frenetic and unique, offering a more relaxed experience, complete with its own visual novel-style storyline. It’s the most chill game on this list and one worth experiencing, without a doubt. There is nothing like taking some of the fantastic music from Persona 4 and rocking out to it by mashing some buttons.

The only problem with Persona 4: Dancing All Night is that the gameplay gets old pretty fast, so it isn’t even worth picking up its successors. Once you’ve beaten the story and unlocked all the characters, there is almost no reason to return to it.

14. Persona 2: Innocent Sin

persona 2 innocent sin

  • Release Date: June 24, 1999 (PS1), April 14, 2011 (PSP remake)
  • Platforms: PS1, PSP
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Genre: JRPG, dungeon-crawler, isometric strategy

Persona 2: Innocent Sin is in an intriguing place, a vast improvement over the first Persona title but still so far away from the modern games in the series. Another PS1 game that was remade for PSP, its graphics aren’t too bad, mainly due to the new top-down isometric perspective.

You now explore the world in the same manner you fight the turn-based battles. This helps make exploring the dungeons and fighting against your foes a little more fun and easy to grasp. However, I still find that Persona 2: Innocent Sin isn’t the most exciting game in the series to play.

However, if you can get past the tedious gameplay, you’ll find one of the most intriguing and dark storylines around. Rumors abound in the city, causing changes; all the while, someone named Joker (not related to Persona 5’s Joker) is murdering people. It is a fascinating story with a fun cast that felt like the precursor to what would later come.

13. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

persona q shadow of the labyrinth

  • Release Date: June 5, 2014
  • Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
  • Developer: P-Studio
  • Genre: JRPG, first-person, dungeon-crawler

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth shows that the first-person dungeon gameplay of the original Persona didn’t have to die off. It works surprisingly well with a more modern take on the experience that works in a handheld environment.

In this game, the casts of Personas 3 and 4 are mashed together into a world where they have to explore a high school and find a way back to their worlds. The gameplay features dungeon-crawling that will be familiar to anyone who played the first Persona but in a much more succinct and understandable manner.

Mapping out the dungeon is fun and reminiscent of Atlus’ Etrian Odyssey series. At the same time, you also get to see some fan fiction-level interactions between characters like Elizabeth and her sister, Margaret. It’s too bad that this game is stuck on the 3DS, forcing most people to play as I did through an emulator.

12. Persona 5 Strikers

persona 5 strikers

  • Release Date: February 20, 2020
  • Platforms: PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
  • Developer: P-Studio, Omega Force, Atlus
  • Genre: JRPG, hack-and-slash

What I appreciate about Persona 5 Strikers is that it tried to be the most unique spin-off game in the series to date. Unlike some others, it feels like a true sequel in all the right ways without being a weird fighting game.

Persona 5 Strikers feels like its predecessor, just with hack-and-slash action gameplay, instead of the turn-based experience. This works most of the time, but the gameplay loop is relatively shallow, and the dungeons, now known as Jails, aren’t that fun to explore.

While it is impressive that it retains some features from the main series, like collecting Personas, it fails in some other areas. What sucks the most is that it loses the hook of the characters and story, going for a mostly run-of-the-mill sequel storyline that does little to give attention to the returning Phantom Thieves and only lightly touch on the new characters.

11. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

persona 4 arena ultimax

  • Release Date: November 28, 2013
  • Platforms: Arcade, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Switch, PC
  • Developer: Arc System Works, P-Studio, Atlus
  • Genre: Fighting game, 2D, visual novel

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax followed up as the first sequel to a spin-off Persona game. It was revolutionary at the time, improving upon the fighting game known as Persona 4 Arena in terms of gameplay. With shadow versions of the characters now thrown in the mix, the roster was vastly expanded.

Though the gameplay feels slightly more refined and better in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, that is roughly the extent of the fun here. Sure, it had a surprisingly long visual novel-style storyline with multiple branches to explore, but it was a trudge to get through with a dull and uninteresting plot.

Even still, the competitive nature of the 2D fighting gameplay still has it up there with some of the better fighting games to release in the past decade.

10. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth

persona q2 new cinema labyrinth

  • Release Date: November 29, 2018
  • Platforms: 3DS
  • Developer: P-Studio, Atlus
  • Genre: First-person, dungeon-crawler, JRPG

Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth took the first-person dungeon idea of the previous spin-off game and expanded upon it quite a lot. Instead of just featuring the characters from Personas 3 and 4, it has now expanded to include the Phantom Thieves in the mix.

The gameplay felt better, too, with the whole idea of each dungeon being like a movie setting, which helped to keep it feeling fresh and intriguing. While it is unfortunate that many of the SEES and Investigation Team members take a backseat to the Phantom Thieves, seeing them all interact with one another is terrific.

In fact, it is the only game to this day in the Persona series where you can see the casts from the last three mainline games hang out with one another. Once again, it is too bad that this game is stuck on the 3DS with no port in sight at this point.

9. Persona 4 Arena

persona 4 arena

  • Release Date: March 1, 2012 (Arcade), July 26, 2012 (consoles)
  • Platforms: Arcade, PS3, Xbox 360. Also, PS4, Switch, and PC (through the Persona 4 Arena Ultimax remastered collection)
  • Developer: Arc System Works, P-Studio, Atlus
  • Genre: Fighting game, 2D, visual novel

It all started with Persona 4 Arena as the very first spin-off game of the already spun-off Persona series. Who would have thought taking characters from a turn-based monster-collecting JRPG and throwing them into a 2D fighting game would turn out so well?

That is exactly what happened with Persona 4 Arena, though. The gorgeous artwork from Arc System Works mixed with the surprisingly deep fighting gameplay helped to instantly make this a favorite in the fighting game community and for Persona fans alike.

I’m not even a fighting game fan, and it was enough to convince me to play it not just once but replay it twice after the fact. This was also in part due to the visual novel storyline that was a canonical direct sequel to both Personas 3 and 4 and unbelievably good. Labrys is one of the best spin-off characters with a storyline that rivals that of the main cast of Persona 4 and should be experienced by all Persona fans.

8. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment

persona 2 eternal punishment

  • Release Date: June 29, 2000, May 17, 2012 (PSP remake)
  • Platforms: PS1, PSP
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Genre: JRPG, strategic isometric

The final game in the PS1 era of the Persona series, Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, was the last nail in the coffin of the older age of the series. Gameplay-wise, it is almost identical to its fellow Persona 2 game, Innocent Sin. That said, it greatly expanded in terms of content to keep players enjoying the game beyond the base storyline.

Speaking of the story, Eternal Punishment continued the dark and gloomy nature of the rumors that spread throughout the central city. Set as a direct sequel to Innocent Sin while also being set in a parallel realm (it’s weird, I know), it did a surprisingly great job of capping off this trilogy.

It had a lot of fan service, letting you romance characters and paying homage to the past two games every step of the way, including bringing together characters from all three games in one package at times. While the story gets a little too bizarre and controversial towards the end, there is still something charming about Persona 2: Eternal Punishment that makes it worth checking out, even if to watch the cutscenes on YouTube.

7. Persona 4

persona 4

  • Release Date: July 10, 2008
  • Platforms: PS2 (base version only)
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Genre: JRPG, dungeon-crawler, monster-collector

Persona 4 came out so soon after the release of Persona 3 that it did little to improve the graphics and gameplay outside of some minor changes. That said, what it did improve in the gameplay department was noticeable, with a smoother and more enjoyable experience to play.

Not to mention the fact that its dungeons were more interesting and varied compared to the one-note Tartarus. There is always the eternal battle of which is better between the two, but I find that Persona 4 ultimately falls short of Persona 3 in a couple of departments.

While its gameplay is slightly better, it lacks an intriguing place to explore with its intentionally boring town of Inaba. Not to mention the cast of characters are more miss than hit, never really grabbing me that much with their far too-goofy nature. That said, I appreciated the serial murder storyline, which added some much-need seriousness to the otherwise whacky tone of Persona 4.

I love Persona 4, and it is a must-play, but not in this particular version as of today.

6. Persona 3

persona 3

  • Release Date: July 13, 2006
  • Platforms: PS2 (base version)
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Genre: JRPG, dungeon-crawler, monster-collector

Persona 3 is where the modern era of the Persona series began. It fits like an excellent bridge between the previous three games and the two games that would come after it. Some odd, older aspects of this game don’t hold up too well today, but it remains one of my favorite games of all time (besides the base version).

Persona 3 follows Makoto, a transfer student at a high school that is steeped in controversy and darkness. The main character quickly joins SEES, a group devoted to investigating the shadows in the Dark Hour, a time in which most people are frozen in time.

The storyline is grim, depressing, and full of twists and turns. It has one of the best casts of characters in any video game ever. Though its gameplay is a little messy in not letting you fully control your party members, and the dungeon of Tartarus is so repetitive, it is a true classic worth checking out. Just maybe not in its base form.

5. Persona 3 Portable

persona 3 portable

  • Release Date: November 1, 2009
  • Platforms: PSP, PS4, Xbox One/Series, Switch, PC
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Genre: JRPG, dungeon-crawler, monster-collector

Persona 3 Portable is how I first checked out the fourth mainline game in the series, and it still holds a special place in my heart. The PSP remake puts the game on a handheld, which is what this series was meant to be played like.

It is the most different version of Persona 3, taking away the full control during exploration and controversially reducing it to moving a cursor across static screens. If you can ignore this massive mistake, though, Persona 3 Portable is arguably up there for one of the better-expanded Persona versions.

For the first and only time in the series to date, you get to choose between playing as a male or female character in P3P. This changes gameplay considerably as you now get to romance and get to know people you usually wouldn’t otherwise. Plus, Persona 3 Portable was the introduction of the part-time job system, which is a nice way to pass the time.

4. Persona 4 Golden

persona 4 golden

  • Release Date: June 14, 2012
  • Platforms: Vita, PS4, Switch, Xbox One/Series, PC
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Genre: JRPG, dungeon-crawler, monster-collector

Persona 4 Golden showed what an expanded, true version of a Persona game could be. Removing the mess that happened with Persona 3, Golden introduced streamlined gameplay aspects to the original Persona 4 and a brand new character in the form of Marie.

If you play Persona 4 Golden today, this is the version to check out on modern consoles and PC. Marie and the other aspects of this definitive version feel like they should have been there all along. With the multiple endings and new dungeon to explore, too, it promotes its replayability in some fantastic ways.

Persona 4 Golden is a game that was built for handheld devices, and it works so well with its relaxing nature. It is also one of the few games on this list that gets even better the more times you play it. While I wasn’t a huge fan, compared to 3, at least when I first played it, it only improves over time as you carry over various stats and know ahead of time the crazy twists that happen.

3. Persona 5

persona 5

  • Release Date: September 15, 2016
  • Platforms: PS3, PS4
  • Developer: P-Studio, Atlus
  • Genre: JRPG, dungeon-crawler, monster-collector

The original Persona 5 showed how far the Persona series could go. Bringing the series into a more expansive and graphically impressive modern day, exploring Tokyo and its various areas is impressive as Joker, the leader of the Phantom Thieves.

The Phantom Thieves are some of the best characters in the series, helped by letting you use the best turn-based gameplay in any JRPG to date. It exudes style and quality from start to finish, with a massive 100-hour-plus storyline to navigate.

That is all before including the breadth of content that it includes, from the part-time jobs to exploring Tokyo’s nicely recreated neighborhoods to hanging out with the Confidants.

2. Persona 3 FES

persona 3 fes

  • Release Date: April 19, 2007
  • Platforms: PS2
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Genre: JRPG, dungeon-crawler, monster-collector

The second-best Persona game in the series goes to Persona 3 FES, the somewhat definitive version of my favorite game in the Persona series. What holds it back from the number one spot is its somewhat dated gameplay and the fact that it still doesn’t have some of the improvements and content from P3P.

FES took the already fantastic base storyline and characters from Persona 3 and expanded it further with some much-need improvements. The gameplay is better with full control over the characters if you want and the ability to explore the setting on foot, unlike P3P.

However, the true benefit of this version comes from the new The Answer epilogue content adds hours of gameplay, a new dungeon, more Persona to collect, and the ability to play as Aigis. It felt like the precursor to the number one game on this list in its experimental but mostly successful risks.

1. Persona 5 Royal

persona 5 royal

  • Release Date: October 31, 2019
  • Platforms: PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox Series/One, PC
  • Developer: P-Studio, Atlus
  • Genre: JRPG, dungeon-crawler, monster-collector

There is no game in the Persona series to date like Persona 5 Royal. It took the already fantastic base Persona 5 and improved it in nearly every department that it was lacking in, getting it as close to literal perfection as it could possibly be.

The gameplay feels a bit more fluid and intriguing, especially with the flashy new partner moves at play. Dungeons feel revamped and better to explore with the optional content involved. The new areas to explore and minigames to engage in helping to expand the already massive experience.

But what makes Persona 5 Royal truly shine are the new characters, the third semester, and justice finally being served for Goro Akechi’s character. Goro, Kasumi, and Dr. Maruki are three of the best Persona characters in the entire series, helping it to finish its victory lap as not only the best Persona game by a long shot but also one of the best games ever made in general.


Question: What is the darkest Persona game?

Answer: The darkest Persona game in the entire series is none other than Persona 3; it doesn’t matter which version. Everything from the moody characters to the grim storyline to the horrifying twists to the gut-wrenching ending is there for the emo kids like me.

Answer: The most popular Persona game is easily Persona 5. Persona 5 Royal may someday surpass it, but the amount of sales for that game is unparalleled at this point in time. The characters are also some of the most liked in the community.

Question: Is Persona 3 or 4 better?

Answer: This is going to be controversial no matter what I say, but I find Persona 3 to be the better game over Persona 4. The characters, story, tone, and setting are all so much more intriguing in Persona 3. While Persona 4 makes some great improvements to the gameplay, it isn’t enough to improve too much over Persona 3.

Time to Check Out the Shin Megami Tensei Series Next

At the end of the day, only one game in the beloved Persona series can reign supreme, and that game is none other than Persona 5 Royal. It’s not honestly my favorite game in the series (that goes to Persona 3 FES/Portable), but it is a close second.

There is nothing like the overwhelming style and substance that Persona 5 Royal has going on. The base game was already a near-masterpiece, and Royal gave it the much-needed boost to reach that coveted 10/10 region. It is not only the best game in the Persona series on all accounts but one of the best video games ever made, period.

I would put Persona 5 Royal in the top 10 games of all time, bar none. There is nothing like the peak that the Persona series hit rather recently, and only time will tell if the next game can keep it going. In the meantime, I recommend checking out the parent series of the Persona games, Shin Megami Tensei. One of the best places to start with that series is in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, where you play as the Demi Fiend.

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