Persona 2: Innocent Sin is a 1999 PlayStation 1 JRPG that came as a direct sequel to a unique Atlus Shin Megami Tensei spin-off title. With a legacy already behind it, this game was instrumental in setting the stage for the popularity and success that the Persona series now has. You’ll be able to see all of this in our Persona 2: Innocent Sin overview.
The Persona 2 Innocent Sin overview guide focuses on giving you all of the details that you need to know about the main characters, the story elements, the Rumor system, and the unique situation surrounding Innocent Sin and its sequel. Here’s everything that you need to know about this Atlus JRPG.
Bottom Line Up Front
Persona 2: Innocent Sin was released in 1999 as a PlayStation title only available in Japan. It would not come to the West until 2011 with the PSP enhanced version, featuring the dark story of a group of high school students investigating the mysterious Joker serial killer plaguing the town.
Featuring turn-based battles and a plethora of Persona to collect, it was a foundation from which later, more popular games in the series would build upon.
What is Persona 2: Innocent Sin?
Persona 2: Innocent Sin is the second game in the Persona series, which itself came from the Shin Megami Tensei franchise that was also created by the Japanese developer, Atlus. While it is a sequel to the original Revelations: Persona and shares some similarities, there are some distinct differences as well.
What Innocent Sin continues is having a similar art style and graphics while being a JRPG on the original PlayStation that features Personas, or the manifestation of the other-selves. High school students, for some reason, are usually the only ones to be able to summon Personas, and they use these to take on Persona enemies.
Where Persona 2 differs from its predecessor, though, is that it is a rather darker and grimmer storyline that adds in some new elements into the gameplay, like the Rumor system. At the same time, it changed up how the turn-based battles worked, removing much of the strategic grid-based combat from the debut title.
Persona 2: Innocent Sin is a direct sequel of sorts to the original Persona, following up on that storyline with a new plot but several returning characters. There is even one party member in the group who was also one of the main characters that players fought alongside in the first game.
The story revolves around the main characters in Persona 2: Innocent Sin investigating the mysterious Joker who seems to be causing trouble and possibly even death in the city that they live in. It is a dramatic and dark storyline that focuses on rumors and the power that they have.
It is not at all a horror game, though it is worth mentioning that it has some horror elements due to the Personas that you can summon. The Personas come from across mythology, religion, and folklore, featuring some creepy and other times goofy designs of monsters for players to collect.
Persona 2: Innocent Sin History
Persona 2: Innocent Sin launched in Japan for the PlayStation 1 on June 24, 1999, near the tail-end of the lifecycle for that initial Sony console. It also arrived nearly three years after the first Persona was released in 1996. The long-awaited sequel arrived with plenty of changes and updates.
Development on this sequel title began not too long after the release of the first Persona game, in large part because Revelations: Persona was a fairly financially successful game. Given that this was a sequel being made right after the first game, much of the staff from Persona 1 came back to make Innocent Sin at Atlus.
When it came out in 1999 in Japan, there were fans in the West that wanted to see the sequel come out here, too. However, in the end, Atlus’ branch offices in the West and development partners decided against doing so, with many different reasons being cited as the reason to blame behind this.
For one, there is the fact that the subject matter in Innocent Sin was much darker and more relevant to the real world and history than its predecessor ever was. There were some controversial symbolism and figures that were referenced in the game, which influenced the decision not to bring it outside of Japan, but that was not the only reason.
It was also revealed that another major factor that played into this unfortunate decision was the fact that there were not enough developers to localize the game in English at the time. This was because the team was already hard at work on Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, oddly enough, despite being a sequel to this game (more on that title later on).
As such, Persona 2: Innocent Sin never came West on the PS1, and fans had to wait for either the fan translation that would come later down the road or the PSP remake that happened more than ten years later to check it out for the very first time.
To make matters worse, Eternal Punishment is a direct sequel to this game, which only made the situation more awkward for fans who missed out on the fundamentally important predecessor.
Like many of the other Persona games in the franchise, Persona 2: Innocent is a turn-based Japanese role-playing game. The battles in the title are focused on a strategic style where the players are encouraged to take their time and focus on making sure that they are making the right, thoughtful decisions each turn.
This is a pretty far departure from what we saw in the first game in the series, Revelations: Persona, which was focused on a turn-based gameplay system that took place on a grid. Similar in some ways to tactical RPGs, that game had players focus on making sure that attacks lined up and were efficient in the area that they would land.
This is something that is not as present in Innocent Sin as it started to move towards the gameplay that we saw in the main series moving forward with the other games. However, that was not the other major change that we saw in Innocent Sin, as it also brought a change in perspective.
What was interesting about Revelations: Persona was that some of the exploration would take place from an isometric perspective inside of rooms and when talking to other players, but the actual dungeons and town exploration would happen from a first-person dungeon-crawling viewpoint.
This is something that Innocent Sin changed as it made the exploration and movement entirely take place from a free-roaming isometric viewpoint. Players had the entire view of the characters and areas surrounding them without having to be in first-person. This is something that would be the basis for how later games would look in the series.
In addition to these fundamental changes to gameplay, some new additions happened in Persona 2: Innocent Sin that set it apart from the other games in the series. Not even some of the later games would contain some of the gameplay elements that were in this title.
For starters, in the gameplay that players should know about, there are the turn-based battles that players will be spending much of their time with when they are not reading the story from the visual novel-like perspective or exploring the town and dungeon areas.
The combat in this game will feature the player taking on random encounters against shadow enemies that are Personas. In these battles, up to five of the party can be in a fight at the same time, and the player has the option to control all of them at will to make decisions about what is best to do.
There are various attacks and inputs that the user can activate for each party member, ranging from the normal attacks to skills that are taken directly from each person’s Persona to the targets that they want to attack. There is a lot of strategy here in making sure that players are making the right moves to not get overwhelmed in this rather difficult game.
One of the unique parts of Persona 2’s combat system is the fusion attack that players can use. These particular attacks are the progenitor to the all-out attacks and special duo showtime ones that would come in later games in the series. They involve two or more party members fusing their attacks.
In this way, it requires the team members to have abilities from their Personas that can work together well. If the option is available, these two or more players can use up their turns to make a more powerful attack against the enemy that will deal some devastating damage in the process.
That is, of course, so long as the player keeps the elemental affinities in mind. In Persona 2, each enemy and Persona, including the party members’ companions, have elemental weaknesses and strengths. It is not recommended to use attacks that an enemy is strong against as it will deal reduced damage or, worse, do nothing at all. On the other hand, using abilities that an enemy is weak to will deal extra damage.
Negotiation and Collecting Personas
Another key aspect of this game is collecting Personas to use in battle. The main character can wield more than one Persona, and their stats and abilities will change based on which ones they have. As for getting new Personas, this involves the player doing a few different actions.
For one, conversing with the Personas that you fight in battles is the main way, taking some cues from the Shin Megami Tensei series. You can convince enemies with the right words in these negotiations to give you items or even cards that will let you summon them to be your new companion.
Furthermore, that is not the only way that players can collect Persona as they are also able to visit the series’ classic Velvet Room, where fusions take place. The player can take their existing Personas and then fuse them to create a new one to use in battle.
Rumor System Explained
One of the most unique additions that are introduced in Innocent Sin that are found in a few games in the series other than this one is the Rumor system. The crux of the game is surrounding the mysterious Joker character, and the Rumors play into this in a significant way.
Rumors are how the legend of Joker persists, and the player is also able to use this system to change the world around them. As the party explores the city, they will come across various NPC characters that will tell them about rumors that they have heard throughout the town.
The player is then able to take those rumors to the detective agency that is a major part of the story and have them help spread the rumor around town. In practice, what this means is that these rumors in the system will then cause changes to the gameplay mechanics.
Some of the changes that will happen because of the player using the Rumors system include opening up new stores where you can purchase fresh items and changing other elements of the world. It is a useful feature and one that is unique to this particular game.
Main Party Members
The main cast in Persona 2: Innocent Sin begins with the protagonist that the player plays as, Tatsuya Suou. He is a student at the Seven Sisters High School in the fictional town of Sumaru in Japan and is mostly someone who prefers to spend time alone, despite having many friends and acquaintances in the town.
Tatsuya is the first hero in the series to have a canon name and personality, but the weird thing about it is that he still does not talk. This is a recurring tradition in the Persona series, and it does not stop with Tatsuya, despite his status as a major character with a name and important history.
Along the journey to find Joker, Tatsuya is joined by Maya Amano, who is not a high school student but, rather, an adult reporter who is also investigating the Joker incident. What is interesting about Maya is that she is the protagonist of the sequel to this game, Eternal Punishment. As such, her personality and motives are introduced here.
Next up in the group is Lisa Silverman, a Japanese citizen with some Western origins and appearance. She attends the same school as Tatsuya and even seems to have a crush on him. She joins the group in hopes of taking down Joker while also having the chance to be close to the main character.
Jun is another party member in the group and the childhood best friend of Tatsuya. Though they were besties growing up, that changed in high school as they are now going to different schools. That said, Jun and Tatsuya are rather close to the point where he is one of the love interests in the game and the only official same-sex one in the series at this time.
Eikichi is another member of Kasugayama High School, which is the same school that Jun attends. What is interesting about him is that he is a delinquent and the leader of his gang at school. He flirts with just about anyone and can be annoying, but he does care about Jun deeply as a friend.
Last but not least in the group is Yukino. The most familiar character in the party for fans of the first Persona, she is the only returning person who joins the group in this game. She is partners with Maya in investigating Joker, having a still somewhat rough appearance in this game but the same heart of gold as she attempts to help everyone she comes across.
Related reads: Comprehensive Tatsuya Suou Guide.
All this talk about characters, and there is one that players should know about above everyone else except the main party, and that is Joker. For starters, we live in a time when Joker from Persona 5, a later game in the series, is one of the most popular video game characters of all time.
As such, it stands to reason that some players may think that the Joker in this game could be related to the Joker, who is the main protagonist in 5. That said, that is not the case at all, and there are no direct relations between the two characters that we know about at this time.
It is possible that Atlus just wanted to pay homage to its past by giving Joker in Persona 5 a nickname for the Phantom Thieves that both fit the theme of the game while also acknowledging this major character from Innocent Sin. Given the distinct differences between these two Jokers, here is what you need to know about the Persona 2 version.
In Persona 2, as mentioned earlier, the main story is about the high school students and their accomplices trying to investigate the Rumors surrounding Joker. This person is causing trouble, doing terrible things, and using rumors to spread information about it.
Joker is noted by a goofy clown-like appearance and mask that certainly give some allusions to the Joker from the DC Comics series while being its own thing entirely at the same time. That said, this villain similarly takes center stage, causing trouble around the city.
To make matters worse, no one knows the identity of Joker, and that makes the issue of arresting him even harder to accomplish. Don’t worry, you won’t find out spoilers here but finding out who Joker is, is one of the major story elements of this game. In the end, it is up to Tatsuya and the gang to use their various resources to find Joker and put an end to his dastardly schemes.
Your First Few Hours in Persona 2: Innocent Sin
Starting in Persona 2: Innocent Sin, it is worth mentioning that this is a fairly long game but one that is somewhat linear at times, too, outside of exploring dungeons that can be sort of complex. The story opens with Tatsuya and Lisa meeting up with Eikichi early on, eventually leading to them obtaining their first Personas.
Through this experience, they end up meeting with Joker, who is the main enemy in town, and finding out about the rumors that are affecting the city of Sumaru. Through these opening hours, the player will be introduced to the first party members in the group, unlock their initial Personas, and participate in some battles.
The game takes some time to get going, especially with the story, as you are gradually introduced to the main characters. Elements like the Velvet Room and more are shown to the player, giving them an idea of the mechanics that they can use throughout the game.
Persona 2: Eternal Punishment Explained
Without a doubt, one of the most important parts about Innocent Sin is that it is not the end of the storyline for this game. It is only the beginning of a duology that begins here and ends with Eternal Punishment, the second Persona 2 title that was released. As such, it would be a shame not to at least mention that game here.
While I will not go into deep spoilers about this game and how it connects to this title, there are some features that players should know about.
First and foremost, players should always start with Innocent Sin first as it came out first and then go from there to Eternal Punishment. Some events happen in this game that should be known about going into its sequel.
It is also great to know and understand the main characters as a couple of them are recurring. For one, there is the main protagonist in this title, Tatsuya, who takes a step back and becomes a normal party member in the next game with fellow teammate, Maya Amano, taking the main lead instead.
Having some familiarity with these two heroes will help to make Eternal Punishment more impactful overall. And in addition to that, it is recommended that you play Innocent Sin and then Eternal Punishment afterward so that you get the full experience. With these two together, you will be able to get the full story about Joker and what is going on here.
There are quite a few alternatives that we highly recommend for Persona 2: Innocent Sin fans who have already finished the game, including the aforementioned sequel, Eternal Punishment.
Here is the full list:
- Eternal Punishment
- Revelations: Persona
- Persona 3 FES/Portable
- Persona 4 Golden
- Persona 5 Royal
- Shin Megami Tensei IV/Apocalypse
- Shin Megami Tensei V
- The Legend of Heroes Series
- Tales of Series
- Pokemon Series
- Digimon Series
Question: What is the Message of Persona 2?
Answer: This is a question that will be subjective players in the community as many members will take different ideas and themes from the game than others. That said, there are a couple of things that I think I took from the game that I think others might feel the same about.
For one, there is the idea of growing up and moving on from the life that you had before. Without spoilers, there are a lot of story beats that have to do with the fact that some characters had some events happen when they were children, and that has affected their older lives. Those characters have to deal with those events and who they will become now.
The other main theme that I took is the power of words that people speak. Words can be just as powerful, if not more, than strength and physical actions, and Persona 2: Innocent Sin is an example of that, especially when it comes to the Rumors system and the villainous Joker that the team is looking for.
Question: Is Innocent Sin Worth Playing?
Answer: This is another subjective question, but I will give you my personal opinion. It is a mixed answer for me, and it depends on the person what I would say. If you are a Persona fan or a newcomer who wants to see where the series started, then, yes, I do recommend checking it out.
I started in order on PSP going from the first game to this one and so on until I got to the later titles. It gave me a nice appreciation for the series; however, this game does not hold up as well as three and onward today in terms of gameplay, so it may not be for everyone.
But the story and characters are awesome in this game, which is what makes it a complicated situation. I do wish that we got a modern remake that matches the gameplay of later games or at least an anime adaptation, as the story is well worth experiencing.
Question: Should You Play Innocent Sin Before Eternal Punishment?
Answer: Yes, yes, yes. You absolutely should not play Eternal Punishment before Innocent Sin. Now, if you were someone who already did this back in the PS1 days since you had no choice, that is one thing. But if you’ve never played either, pick up a PSP or Vita and check out Innocent Sin first and then Eternal Punishment. This is because Innocent Sin is the first game in this duology, and it has events that happen that set up what is to come in Eternal Punishment.
Some of the twists and revelations that happen in that particular game will not carry the weight that they could if you play them in the correct order. This is the must-play order for these games. That said, I do not think you have to play Persona 1 before these; you can do without doing that.
Question: Is Persona 2: Innocent Sin a remake?
Answer: Persona 2: Innocent Sin itself is not a remake. However, there is a remake for the PlayStation Portable that came out in 2011. That remake is, in fact, the only version of the game that has ever been officially available in English.
There is no news of other versions or remakes that could come to modern-day consoles, so interested players will have to check it out on PSP or PlayStation Vita while they still can before their stores are taken offline forever.
Question: Is there a Persona 2 anime?
Answer: What you will quickly find about the Persona series is that Atlus loves to make an anime adaptation of its games. Starting with Persona 3 and moving forward, there is at least an anime movie or series that has been created for all of the mainline games.
However, that is not the same situation for Persona 2: Innocent Sin and its sequel. Despite having one of the strongest plots in the history of the series and feeling like a must-have for an anime version, that is not the case at this time.
There was a short promotional anime trailer that was made to promote the game, but it was just that, and nothing more ever came out of it. Perhaps if we never get another remake of this title, maybe Atlus will be gracious enough to give an anime series or movie to do this great story justice.
Persona 2: Innocent Sin is only the second of six mainline games that have been released in the Persona series to date. While it was not the most successful game in the series, it paved the way for the later games that we received that built the massive community that currently exists.
As such, fans of this game should be sure to check out some of the other coverage that we have made here for the Persona franchise. We recommend checking out our general Persona 3 overview guide for more details about the fourth main game in the series that was radically different from what came before it.
Continue reading related Persona 2 guides:
- Persona 5 Manga Guide: Where to Find All Persona 5 Manga - April 2, 2023
- Persona Tarot Cards Guide: Where and How to Buy Persona-Themed Tarot Cards - April 2, 2023
- Ishtar Persona 5 Guide: How to Unlock Ishtar in Persona 5 - March 29, 2023