Persona is a series that’s done super well for Atlus over the years. Basically, a Shin Megami Tensei spin-off turned into an IP that is more recognizable to some than the original RPGs that spawned it. This does mean it might seem a bit overwhelming to hop into the series. Especially since there are numbered installments and spin-offs. However, it’s all really quite approachable, and it isn’t too difficult to jump in if you’re wondering how to start playing through the Persona games.
How to Play the Mainline Persona Games in Order
First, here is the full list of Persona games. Only certain entries really should be played in order.
You should play Revelations: Persona/SMT Persona before Persona 2: Innocent Sin, then Innocent Sin before Eternal Punishment. There are overarching elements that all tie together here, as well as recurring characters.
With the later Persona games, it’s best to start with a Persona 3 entry, then move on to Persona 4 and 5. However, all three are completely self-contained, so you don’t have to play them all in order or worry about losing context if you only choose to go through one.
- Revelations: Persona (PSX) or Shin Megami Tensei: Persona (PSP)
- Persona 2: Innocent Sin (PSX, PSP) – The PSX version only appeared in Japan.
- Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (PSX, PSP) – The PSP version only appeared in Japan.
- Persona 3 (PS2), Persona 3 FES (PS2), or Persona 3 Portable (PS4, PSP, Switch, Xbox One, XSX, PC) – I’d recommend Persona 3 FES, as it is the fullest experience, but Persona 3 Portable is the easiest one to find and play now.
- Persona 4 (PS2) or Persona 4 Golden (PS4, Switch, Vita, Xbox One, XSX, PC) – Go with Persona 4 Golden here, as it is the easiest to find and features the most lore and gameplay.
- Persona 5 (PS3, PS4) or Persona 5 Royal (PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, XSX, PC) – Persona 5 Royal is the smart choice here, as it’s available on more platforms and includes additional story elements.
But What About the Persona Game Spin-Offs?
Okay, this isn’t too tricky. Mainly, because only one line of spin-offs actually has a consistent story to it. Even though the Dancing and Q games are considered sequels, there’s no overarching story.
Persona 4 Arena
These are the fighting games with Persona 3 and 4 characters. Ultimax takes place after the original, so play them in order to get the full story! Though if you’re getting one of the more modern remasters of Ultimax, you’re good and can already go through things properly in order.
- Persona 4 Arena (PS3, Xbox 360) –
- Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, PC) –
All of the Persona Dancing entries are rhythm games. A good rule of thumb is to play the ones for entries whose soundtracks you enjoyed most.
- Persona 4: Dancing All Night (PS4, Vita) – As this is the entry with a story mode, you’ll want to play it first.
- Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (PS4, Vita) or Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight (PS4, Vita) – As these entries aren’t as story heavy and “take place” at the same time, you can go with whichever entry’s music you prefer first.
These are essentially Persona takes on the Etrian Odyssey dungeon-mapping formula. Each installment is self-contained. So play the original if you only like the Persona 3 and 4 characters, and go into Persona Q2 if you like the Persona 3, 4 and 5 folks. The sequel does build on mechanics, so you may want to go with that second if you play both.
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (3DS)
- Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth (3DS)
Persona 5 Strikers
This is a weird one too! It takes place after Persona 5. Not Persona 5 Royal, to be specific. It’s a Musou-style beat’em up, so play and beat Persona 5 before getting into this PS4, Switch, and PC game for the best experience.