Every Persona Game and Spin-Off in Order

A complete timeline of Shin Megami Tensei's most beloved spin-off.

Mar 25, 2024 - 08:30
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Every Persona Game and Spin-Off in Order

Beginning its life as a Shin Megami Tensei spin-off, the Persona series has quickly launched into something entirely of its own and become one of the biggest names in modern RPGs. From multiple major sequels and remakes to anime adaptations and even stage plays, Persona is a multimedia sensation, and its popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

With the latest entry in the franchise, Persona 3 Reload, now available to play on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and PC, new players are probably wondering where’s the best place to start. Below, we’ll give you a full rundown of every game and spin-off, including the best entry point for newcomers and both the chronological and release order of the series.

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How Many Persona Games Are There?

In total, there are currently twenty Persona games. Several of these are expanded versions of the mainline entries in the series, whether that’s in the form of re-releases featuring new story content or remakes. While we won’t include direct ports or remasters, we’ll make sure to note every alternate version of each game when listing them below.

Which Persona Game Should You Play First?

If you're looking for the perfect place to start, you can’t really go wrong jumping into Persona 3 Reload, Persona 4 Golden or Persona 5 Royal first. They’re the latest versions of the third, fourth and fifth mainline entries in the series, and, aside from Persona 3 Reload missing Nintendo Switch, they’re all available on PC and every major console.

For those concerned about skipping the story by jumping into later entries in the series, you won’t miss anything by going straight to Persona 3, 4, or 5. Each game tells an entirely new story with original characters that’s largely disconnected from its predecessors, so they’re great launching points for those coming in fresh.

Every Persona Game and Spin-Off in Chronological Order

These blurbs contain mild spoilers for each game, including characters, settings, and story beats.

1. Revelations: Persona (1996)

The first game in the series, Revelations: Persona was Atlus’ reaction to the positive reception of Shin Megami Tensei: If…, which was another Shin Megami Tensei spin-off centered around high-schoolers battling demons. Capitalizing on how much players enjoyed the central concept, Revelations: Persona offered a full dungeon-crawling RPG centered around a group of high schoolers battling a supernatural uprising throughout the town of Mikage-cho.

Along the way, they use the powers of their awakened Personas to take down shadows and explore dungeons filled with random encounters, leveling up their party and growing stronger over the course of the game. Revelations: Persona was the foundation of the franchise as we know it today, introducing elements like wielding Personas in combat, the Velvet Room and a teenage cast of heroes.

2. Persona 2: Innocent Sin (1999)

The second entry in the Persona series, Persona 2: Innocent Sin launched in 1999. The game follows a new set of high-school students led by protagonist Tatsuya Suou, who set out on a mission to take down a mysterious villain known as Joker and the cult of the Masked Circle.

Centring around an evil plot where malicious rumors spreading around the town of Sumaru come to life, Persona 2 once again focuses on exploring dungeons, wielding Personas, fighting shadows and leveling up your party. Unlike other entries in the series, it received a direct sequel just a year later, with Persona 2: Eternal Punishment acting as a continuation of the game's story.

Read our review of Persona 2: Innocent Sin.

3. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (2000)

Following up the events of Innocent Sin, Eternal Punishment promoted side character, Maya Amano, to the protagonist role. Sent to write an article about a new rumor regarding a phenomenon known as the Joker Curse, the game quickly sees Maya and her allies rally against a returning foe.

Acting as a direct continuation of Innocent Sin's story, it centers on the same style of turn-based, dungeon-crawling gameplay, as players build their party and wield their Personas to battle shadows.

Read our review of Persona 2: Eternal Punishment.

4. Persona 3 (2006) / Persona 3 FES (2007) / Persona 3 Portable (2009) / Persona 3 Reload (2024)

The third mainline entry in the franchise, Persona 3 was a major evolution of the Persona formula. Opting to focus on its high-school premise, Persona 3 introduced a daily calendar, with one half of the game tasking players with attending school, developing friendships and studying, while the other sent them to fight shadows in the supernatural realm of Tartarus.

The story focuses on high school student Makoto Yuki, who finds he's able to experience a mysterious space of time known as the Dark Hour, where regular people are trapped in coffins and a demonic tower sprouts from his school. Teaming with his classmates, he explores the tower, uncovering a sinister plot that threatens the entire world. Persona 3 is considered a landmark entry for the series, introducing social links, day-to-day activities and many other mechanics that have since become synonymous with the franchise.

Read our review of Persona 3 Reload.

5. Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (2018)

A rhythm-based dancing spin-off of Persona 3 that takes place during the main campaign, Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight sees Elizabeth challenge the S.E.E.S team to a dance-off in the Velvet Room. The events of the game are set during a dream but are completely canon to the story, and follow the team performing various dance routines to iconic Persona 3 tracks.

6. Persona 4 (2008) / Persona 4 Golden (2012)

The fourth mainline entry in the Persona series, Persona 4 takes place in the rural town of Inaba. Players assume the role of Yu Narukami: a high schooler from the city who moves to the country to live with his uncle and cousin for a year. After arriving, a string of violent murders begin to take place in the town, as Yu and his friends quickly discover they’re somehow linked to a mysterious otherworldly realm they can access by stepping through TV monitors.

Delving into this mysterious new world, Yu and his friends face supernatural forces as they learn more about the murders, using their powers to try and stop them. Building off the mechanics of Persona 3, Persona 4 once again utilizes the calendar system, as players build social links and attend school while also exploring vast dungeons and defeating enemies with their Personas.

Read our review of Persona 4 Golden.

7. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (2014)

Technically taking place during the Persona 3 and Persona 4 storylines simultaneously, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is a crossover between both games. During the typhoon segment of Persona 3 and the Culture Festival segment of Persona 4, the S.E.E.S team and the Investigation Squad are trapped inside a warped version of Yasogami High School.

The time-bending event sees both teams come together to investigate the strange occurrence and escape back to their respective spots on the timeline. Along the way, players explore a labyrinth filled with new enemies and uncover an original story, with the spin-off acting as a callback to the series’ more traditional dungeon-crawler roots.

Read our review of Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth.

8. Persona 4 Arena (2012)

A continuation of both Persona 3 and 4’s narratives and the franchise’s first major spin-off, Persona 4 Arena sees Yu Narukami return to Inaba and stumble into a new adventure, as he returns to the TV world for a mysterious fighting tournament. Forced to battle against his allies and a group known as the Shadow Operatives, which is comprised of Persona 3's Mitsuru, Akihiko and Aigis, Arena offers a full fighting game boasting a roster of iconic Persona characters.

Read our review of Persona 4 Arena.

9. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (2013)

A year following the release of Persona 4 Arena, the spin-off received a sequel titled Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. Taking place directly after the events of the first game, the Persona 4 squad teams up with the Shadow Operatives to return to the TV World and battle against the mysterious forces running the fighting tournament. Ultimax was ultimately an upgrade for the first game, bringing in an expanded roster including returning characters like Yukari, Junpei, Ken and Koromaru.

Read our review of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax.

10. Persona 4: Dancing All Night (2015)

The fourth and arguably most unexpected spin-off of Persona 4, Persona 4: Dancing All Night is a rhythm-based dancing game where the Investigation Squad performs routines to iconic Persona tracks. It offers a completely canon continuation of the storyline, following Yu and the team as they’re sucked into an alternate dimension known as the Midnight Stage.

Read our review of Persona 4: Dancing All Night.

11. Persona 5 (2016) / Persona 5 Royal (2019)

The fifth mainline entry in the series, Persona 5 hit shelves in Japan in 2016 before launching worldwide in 2017. Taking players to Tokyo, it casts them as a new protagonist known as Joker, who finds himself on probation after being framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Attending the local high school, Joker and his friends discover a supernatural alternate dimension, which allows them to infiltrate mystical palaces and change the hearts of evil-doers around the city.

Before long, the group becomes notorious on the streets of Tokyo, going under the alias of the Phantom Thieves. The game builds heavily off the formula established by Persona 3 and 4, including massive story-focused levels that unfold over a month, the return of the negotiation system and a new dungeon system known as Mementos. Persona 5 launched the franchise into the stratosphere, quickly becoming Atlus' best-selling game of all time and cultivating a huge fan base.

Read our review of Persona 5 Royal.

12. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth (2018)

A sequel to Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, New Cinema Labyrinth once again depicts a crossover between various Persona characters. After the Phantom Thieves find themselves trapped in a movie theater, they ally with Persona 3's S.E.E.S team and Persona 4's Investigation Squad to find an escape, traveling into the movies on the screen in an attempt to fix their endings.

Much like the original game, Persona Q2 simultaneously takes place during the Persona 3, 4 and 5 storylines, with the adventure pulling each group out of their respective timeline. There, they explore dungeons from a first-person perspective and fight turn-based battles against various enemies.

13. Persona 5 Tactica (2023)

Taking place during the events of Persona 5, Persona 5 Tactica is a strategy-focused spin-off that’s similar in style to the XCOM franchise. The story follows the Phantom Thieves mysteriously traveling to an alternate realm known as the Kingdoms. Unable to escape, Joker and Morgana are forced to abandon the rest of the Phantom Thieves after they're brainwashed by the realm's monstrous ruler, Tyrant Marie, forcing the pair to begin an adventure to save their allies and return home.

Along the way, they team up with the local resistance, helping them fight against Tyrant Marie's forces. The game revolves around a tactical grid-based combat system, as players direct three units across the battlefield and take out enemies.

Read our review of Persona 5 Tactica.

14. Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight (2018)

Atlus’ third rhythm-based dancing spin-off, Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight sees Caroline and Justine bring the Phantom Thieves to the Velvet Room and challenge them to a dance off. There, the group perform dance routines to several of Persona 5's catchiest tracks.

15. Persona 5 Strikers (2020)

A spin-off set four months after the events of Persona 5, Strikers sees the Phantom Thieves reunite for a summer vacation. However, the team find themselves sucked into the Metaverse after using an app known as EMMA. Escaping with the help of a new ally, the team don their Phantom Thieves gear once more and set out to discover the truth behind EMMA, the Metaverse, and what it means for the people of Tokyo.

Persona 5 Strikers is a crossover with the long-running Dynasty Warriors franchise, introducing real-time combat to the series. Battles center around the Phantom Thieves taking on large hordes of enemies, which they can deal with through combos or by calling on Personas.

Read our review of Persona 5 Strikers.

Every Persona Game and Spin-Off in Release Order

  1. Revelations: Persona (1996)
  2. Persona 2: Innocent Sin (1999)
  3. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (2000)
  4. Persona 3 (2006)
  5. Persona 3 FES (2007)
  6. Persona 4 (2008)
  7. Persona 3 Portable (2009)
  8. Persona 4 Arena (2012)
  9. Persona 4 Golden (2012)
  10. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (2013)
  11. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (2014)
  12. Persona 4: Dancing All Night (2015)
  13. Persona 5 (2016)
  14. Persona 3: Dancing in the Moonlight (2018)
  15. Persona 5: Dancing in the Starlight (2018)
  16. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth (2018)
  17. Persona 5 Royal (2019)
  18. Persona 5 Strikers (2020)
  19. Persona 5 Tactica (2023)
  20. Persona 3 Reload (2024)

What's Next for Persona?

Although Persona 3 Reload has only just hit shelves, it seems Atlus has another Persona project in the pipeline. Last year, they announced they were working on a mobile spin-off known as Persona 5: The Phantom X. When announcing the project, Atlus said it was similar in style to the original Persona 5, featuring a new group of characters as they explore the Metaverse and navigate daily highschool life.

While we wait for an inevitable Persona 6, we also know the team behind Persona 3, 4 and 5 is working hard on their next RPG, Metaphor: ReFantazio. It's slated to release later this year and promises to be a sprawling fantasy tale with all the style, intense turn-based combat and intricate storytelling of the Persona series. It doesn't have a release date just yet, but you can check out the official trailer above.

Callum Williams is a freelance media writer with years of experience as a game critic, news reporter, guides writer and features writer.