Persona has been around for more than two and a half decades at this point. What began as a Shin Megami Tensei spin-off has become an iconic JRPG staple in its own right, with a dedicated fanbase that many would even say has surpassed SMT by now. It has been a remarkably consistent series in its active years, which makes it very difficult to rank all of the games, but not impossible.
This ranking will consider the definitive edition of every game, so Persona 5 Royal and Persona 4 Golden over the originals, etc.
10. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth
The Persona Q games are a fun take on the JRPG elements already present in the main series. Players who truly enjoyed the dungeon-crawling nature of Persona 4 will likely be big fans of this game for similar combat reasons. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth ultimately falls at the bottom of the ranking for feeling like a weaker version of its predecessor despite being the sequel. There is still a lot of fun to be had here, though.
9. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
Continuing the fascinating trend of Atlus seemingly pulling a game genre out of a hat with every new development style and putting their IP into that genre, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is the studio bringing the world of Persona 4 into the fighting realm. Similar to its other side content, the game pulls this off with surprising ease, crafting an experience that feels more like traditional fighting games with its single-player focus on story. With all of the Persona games ranked next to each other, this title falls near the bottom almost solely because it can feel like more of a gimmick at times than a real Persona experience.
The original Persona is far from a bad JRPG. Playing the game in the modern day showcases the groundwork of what’s become so iconic since its humble beginnings. Ultimately, however, it just isn’t the experience that can be found with every main series title that comes later. It flies above many of its competitor JRPGs from that era, but it lacks the deeper character work and streamlined combat systems of future works.
7. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
The original Persona Q game may be the best Persona experience on the Nintendo 3DS. Treading similar ground to the Persona Q2 entry, this game is full of entertaining dungeons and brain-teasing puzzles that will thrill any fans of this subgenre. The story is fun and serves its purpose, and fans of the older games will certainly be happy to see some of their favorite characters return here in a surprisingly canon narrative.
6. Persona 5 Strikers
Cementing the idea that the original Persona 5 was not just a fluke, all of the side content expanding the story of that game has been equally fantastic. Persona 5 Strikers is a hack-n-slash title with a lot of heart. The pitfall of this genre is making the combat too mindless to be worth a lot of time beyond the initial experience, but this game manages to put in the effort to warrant multiple replays.
5. Persona 5 Tactica
Where Persona 5 Tactica shines is in how much fun it is to play around in the strategy system Atlus has created for this game. The studio’s first bout bringing its legendary JRPG franchise into the realm of tactical RPGs undoubtedly does so with a lot of finesse and polish. Like many Persona side games, it doesn’t quite reach the main series’ standards for storytelling, but as long as the game is fun that’s a backseat gripe.
4. Persona 4 Golden
Persona 4 Golden is such a strange addition to the series for the reason that it feels like everything it does wonderfully right is paired with something strangely frustrating. One of the series’ most interesting story hooks is paired with one of its most annoying and loathed characters. One of the most in-depth combat systems is paired with grindy procedurally generated dungeon crawling that gets tedious quickly. Even with those cons, the natural character relationships and overall fun fighting system are enough to warrant multiple replays of Persona 4 Golden.
3. Persona 2: Innocent Sin & Eternal Punishment
Persona 2 is where the series really found its footing and established much of what has become the norm in the series today. At the time, it was on the cutting edge, pulling a Final Fantasy 7 by crafting a story expansive enough to warrant being told over the course of multiple games. The PSP port thankfully combines both of these stories into one to make things feel that much more seamless, allowing the game to truly shine and show off how timeless a lot of its features truly are. It only suffers from not being as polished as nearly everything that comes after.
2. Persona 3 FES
There are still those who rank Persona 3 as the greatest game this franchise has ever produced, and it’s not difficult to see why. The FES version of the game is undoubtedly the best way to experience it, with a lot of new content that further enhances the game similar to the Golden and Royal versions of Persona 4 and Persona 5, respectively, which makes it hard to understand why Atlus has chosen not to bring the FES content to the upcoming Persona 3 Reload remake.
1. Persona 5 Royal
The latest installment to the main series of the franchise has done nothing but give fans hope for the future, while also expanding that fanbase to a degree that many never before thought possible. Persona 5 Royal does this through its sleek and unmatched aesthetic, lightning-fast, and addictive combat, all wrapped in one of the best stories the series has seen thus far. It’s a shame that Persona 5 Tactica may be the send-off to the characters this game introduced and players have spent so much time with in the last few years. This title simply has to land at the top of almost any Persona games ranked list.