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The Persona games are a series of JRPGs from Atlus that come from the Shin Megami Tensei series. With such a complicated history, it means that there are a lot of Persona key terms for newcomers that can be challenging to figure out.
Some of these Persona key terms for newcomers come from the SMT series and, therefore, ask for some prior knowledge there or add in their own terms to create even more layers. We are here to help you figure out what you should know when you first start playing one of these games.
Persona Key Terms Glossary List
Like with any video game series, there are some key terms that you should know about in Persona. There are quite a lot, especially since the series delves into the subconscious and some rather specific areas. As such, we have compiled a list of the key terms that we think you should know about.
Here is the full list of the Persona key terms for newcomers that we have gathered here for you. You can find the list right below and the extensive definitions of each word in our glossary further down, if you’d like.
- Shin Megami Tensei
- Phantom Thieves
- Calling Card
- Dark Hour
- Midnight Channel
- Social Links and Confidants
Above all else, the first word that you should know about is, well, Persona. What is a Persona? Well, it can be defined as a few things, but the definition that we like is that it is the representation of the “other self.” Everyone has a subconscious self that they are able to manifest under certain situations.
It just so happens that the Personas, or other selves, in this series are represented by various demons and people from across mythologies, religion, and folklore.
The Arcana in the Persona series are different groups of the Personas that players are able to fuse and use in battle. The Arcana are represented by the various Tarot cards in existence, with each Persona grouped under one of them. This affects how fusion works and Social Links as well since some main characters will represent a particular Arcana.
Shin Megami Tensei
Shin Megami Tensei is the original series from which the Persona franchise is born. This is the series that started the recruitment of Personas, or demons as they are known in this parent series, and many of the other elements like turn-based battles and elements.
Revelations: Persona was the first Persona game and was initially a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei series for the PlayStation 1. Its success, though, would lead to it becoming a separate series from SMT entirely. Shin Megami Tensei is now mostly a Nintendo-exclusive franchise for new entries, while Persona is more tied to PlayStation.
The Phantom Thieves are a group of main characters from Persona 5, specifically. In this highly popular and successful game in the series, the main characters are part of the Phantom Thieves.
This is the name of the group of characters whose goal is to steal hearts. They use this strange method of stealing hearts to change the minds of bad people to make them be better. Each of the Phantom Thieves has a unique costume and mask to cover up their identities while on the job.
A calling card is the item that the Phantom Thieves in Persona 5 will send to a target of theirs after invading their Palace and finding the treasure. This calling card is sent in the real world and will activate the defenses of the targeted “bad person” and cause their treasure, or essentially their heart, to become available for stealing.
The Dark Hour is a special time and place that is featured in Persona 3, specifically. If you play this game, you will find that the bulk of the combat gameplay sections of that game takes place during the Dark Hour.
This is the mysterious hour that is hidden from the realities of most people. Most humans will be frozen during this time but a select few are able to perceive it. During this time, shadows roam free and the main characters in Persona 3 are able to fight back against them.
The Midnight Channel is the main location for the combat in Persona 4. It is a special channel that is found inside of literal TVs that takes the person to the shadow world. Unfortunately, even normal people are able to find themselves here.
The main characters in Persona 4 visit the Midnight Channel inside TVs to defeat shadows and try to track down the serial killer who lures people inside of there just to kill them.
The Palaces are the main location in the shadow world that the Phantom Thieves visit in Persona 5. The Palaces are the locations where the “heart” or treasure of a person that they are targeting is located.
The Palaces are the various dungeons that the Phantom Thieves will go through in order to stop that person from being evil. In the sequel game, Persona 5 Strikers, the Palaces are traded for Jails but largely serve the same purpose.
Mementos is a mostly optional dungeon that the Phantom Thieves can choose to explore on their own terms in Persona 5. It is a massive underground labyrinth with Personas to capture, treasure to find, and side quest-like requests to complete. The origins of Mementos is shrouded in mystery.
With Personas, there are a few ways that a person is able to find a new one and one of the main methods is through fusion. With fusion, players are able to fuse together two (or more) different Personas together to create a new one.
The Compendium is the collection of all Personas that are in a specific game. There are upwards of hundreds of different Personas in any one game and the Compendium is the way that you keep track of them all.
You can fill out the Compendium’s list of Persona by collecting and fusing to make new ones.
Social Links and Confidants
One of the major parts of the Persona series starting with Persona 3 is the social links and confidants. The same general idea but going by different names depending on the game, they are the relationships that characters have with your protagonist.
There are different ranks to the social links that you can increase over time, unlocking various features, benefits, and the possibility to even romance characters.
One of the most confusing parts about the Persona games that we highly recommend players try to memorize is the names of the various skills. There are elemental abilities, similar to magic, that players can use in battle through the power of Personas.
Unfortunately, the elements in the Persona series are quite confusing and this is due to taking cues from its parent series, Shin Megami Tensei. Zio is one of the skills and it represents the name for the electric attacks for the series.
Next up in the list of the elemental attacks, we have Garu. Can you guess what this means? Well, it means wind attacks. In some games, Garu is switched out with the SMT’s version, Zan, which happens to mean force attacks but both are represented by the green color.
Next up, we have Agi, which is one of the go-to attacks that you will see early on in the Persona games. For this, it is represented by a red color and, of course, means that it is a fire-based attack.
Switching things up for a moment, we come to Hama. When it comes to the Hama abilities, they are elemental as well but they have to do with light-based attacks, so they have an angelic vibe to their symbol.
One of the most popular and well-known elemental attacks in the Persona series is the Bufu attack. The goofy name for this ability means ice attacks that you can use in battle.
Interestingly enough, there are a couple of elemental abilities that are exclusive to the most recent entry in the series, Persona 5. These two new types are there as new elements for players to deal with in battle.
The first of these two new elemental abilities is the Psi one. As the name implies, it is a psychic ability type that is new to the series and follows much of the same functions as the other ones but with an emphasis on certain status ailments.
The other of the two new elemental types that were introduced in Persona 5 is Frei. This one is not as obvious from the name alone, but this new elemental ability is the nuclear type.
The Frei elemental ability is the one that does, technically, have some history in the Persona series in the past but in very limited, exclusive forms of abilities that certain Personas had. It made its widespread debut in Persona 5.
One of the final main abilities that players have access to in the Persona series is the Mudo skills. This is the counterpart to the Hama abilities and represents the dark elemental side of the equation.
The Mudo skills can also be known as the curse skills as they are known in Persona 5. Like Hama, there is a big emphasis on these abilities having the potential to cause instant kills.
Finally, the key term that you should know about and the last element overall is Almighty. This is a sort of hidden ability that is unique in that almost no Personas in the series have resistances to. As such, this means that it is extremely powerful against even the most resistant foes.
This is just one of the first steps in learning more about the Persona series. With six mainline games in total and lots of content to explore, we recommend checking out more about how the Persona 3 Evoker item works for a look at a device that is meant for a specific entry in the series.