Persona (ペルソナ, Persona) is a role-playing video game series with life simulation elements developed by Atlus and P-Studio. It is a sub-series of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise; the rights to said franchise are currently owned by SEGA.
A branching sub-series of the Megami Tensei franchise, Megami Tensei overall is a series focused on darker occult and surreal realism based fantasy, specifically an "age of the return of the gods" and an apocryphal fusion of cyberpunk and religious folklore. Originating as a 1986 novel titled Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei, the novel's plot involves high school computer science and programming prodigy Akemi Nakajima delving into correlated studies of magic and programming for payback against a recent case of bullying, until events spiral out of control to where he realizes he plays a greater part in quelling the demons he unleashed into the world. It would not be a hunch to cite this as a sort of origin for later series to be borne of "interdependent origination": while Megami Tensei being the adaptation of the novel's contents into video game form with two installments, and follow up series Shin Megami Tensei playing off of sequel Megami Tensei II centering on themes of the apocalypse, religious and cult activity, the role of mankind in the supernatural order, and the nature of morality, Persona goes back to its roots as a fantastical coming of age high school story with an appeal to applied and modernity focused spirituality and growth, not thematically unlike other JRPGs of its time of the 1990s such as Tales and the Soul Blazer trilogy, and uniquely incorporates a day-by-day system found in dating and life sims.
The Persona series was first conceived after the release of Shin Megami Tensei If... for the Super Famicom. As the high school setting of If... had been positively received, Atlus decided to create a dedicated sub-series focusing on the inner struggles of young adults. The focus on high school life was also decided upon due to the experiences of the series' creators, Kouji Okada and Kazuma Kaneko: according to them, as nearly everyone experiences being a student at some point in their lives, it was something everyone could relate to, representing a time of both learning and personal freedom. In their view, this approach helped players accept the series' themes and the variety of ideas included in each title. Kaneko in particular tried to recreate his experiences and the impact it had on him during his time with the series. The main concept behind the first game was a Megami Tensei title that was more approachable for new and casual players than the main series. The abundance of casual games on the PlayStation reinforced this decision. The game's title, Megami Ibunroku, represented the title's status as a direct spin-off from the series. It was later dropped to further define Persona as a standalone series. After the success of Persona, Innocent Sin began development, retaining many of the original staff. During the writing of Innocent Sin, it was decided that the world of Persona 2 needed a different perspective than that of the current protagonist. This decision laid the groundwork for Eternal Punishment. Following this, the Persona series entered a hiatus while focus turned to other projects, including Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.
The Persona series takes place in modern-day Japan, and almost always focuses on a group of high school students. The exception to this is Eternal Punishment, which instead focused on a group of adults. The setting has been described as urban fantasy, with extraordinary events happening in otherwise normal locations. The typical setting used is a city, with a noted exception being the rural town setting of Persona 4.
A defining aspect of the series is the Personas, manifestations of a person's psyche. Many Personas used up to Persona 3 are inspired by Graeco-Roman mythology. In Persona 4 they are based on Japanese deities; Persona 5 uses characters inspired by popular fictional and historical outlaws. The summoning ritual for Personas in battle varies throughout the series: in early games, the party gains the ability to summon through a short ritual after playing a parlour game; in Persona 3, they fire a gun-like device called an Evoker at their head; in Persona 4, they summon their Personas using Tarot cards; in Persona 5, they are summoned through the characters' masks.
The gameplay of the Persona series revolves around combat against various enemy types: Demons, Shadows and Personas. Main combat takes place during dungeon crawling segments within various locations. The way battles initiate varies between random encounters (Persona, Persona 2) or running into models representing enemy groups (Persona 3 onwards). Battles are governed by a turn-based system, where the player party and enemies each attack the opposing side. Actions in battle include standard physical attacks using short-range melee or long-range projectile weapons, magical attacks, using items, guarding, and under certain conditions escaping from battles. During battle, either side can strike an enemy's weakness, which deals more damage than other attacks. Starting with Persona 3, landing a critical hit grants the character an extra turn. If all enemies are knocked down by critical hits, the party can perform an "All Out Attack", with all party members attacking at once and dealing high damage. Each party member is manually controlled by the player in all but one Persona title: in Persona 3, all the party apart from the main character are controlled by an AI-based command system. The general gameplay has remained consistent across all Persona games.
After the original versions' release of each main entries, many formerly unnamed protagonists who appeared in the animated adaptions begin to use their anime name as their default name in later medias, rather than original manga names, which was first applied in Persona 4 Animation, onward.
List of games in the Persona franchise
- Original RPG
- Revelations: Persona (1996, PlayStation)
- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona (2009, PlayStation Portable)
- Persona 2: Innocent Sin (1999, PlayStation) (JAPAN ONLY)
- Persona 2: Innocent Sin (2011, PlayStation Portable)
- Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (2000, PlayStation)
- Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (2012, PlayStation Portable) (JAPAN ONLY)
- Persona 3 (2006, PlayStation 2)
- Persona 3 FES (2007, PlayStation 2)
- Persona 3 Portable (2009, PlayStation Portable)
- Persona 4 (2008, PlayStation 2)
- Persona 4 Golden (2012, PlayStation Vita; 2020, PC)
- Persona 5 (2016, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4)
- Persona 5 Royal (2019, PlayStation 4)
- Revelations: Persona (1996, PlayStation)
- Persona 4 Arena (2012, Arcade, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
- Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (2013, Arcade; 2014, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
- Persona Q: Shadows of the Labyrinth (2014, Nintendo 3DS)
- Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth (2018, Nintendo 3DS)
- Persona 4: Dancing All Night (2015, PlayStation Vita; 2018, PlayStation 4)
- Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight (2018, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita)
- Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (2018, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita)
- Persona 5 Strikers (2020, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch; 2021, PC)
- Persona 3: The Night Before (2006, Mobile)
- Megami Ibunroku Persona: Ikū no Tō Hen (2006, Mobile)
- Megami Tensei QIX: Persona 3 (2007, Mobile)
- Megami Tensei Chaining Soul: Persona 3 (2007, Mobile)
- Persona 2 Tsumi: Lost Memories (2007, Mobile)
- Aegis: The First Mission (2007, Mobile)
- Persona 3 Em (2007, Mobile)
- Persona Ain Soph (2008, Browser)
- Persona 3: Illust Puzzle (2008, Mobile)
- Persona 3: Broken Shadow (2008, Mobile)
- Persona 2 Batsu: Infinity Mask (2008, Mobile)
- Persona Mobile Online (2009, Mobile)
- Persona 3: Escape (2009, Mobile)
- Persona 3: Social (2010, Mobile)
- Catherine (2011, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360; 2019, PC)
- Catherine: Full Body (2019, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita; 2020, Nintendo Switch)
- Persona 4: The Card Battle (2012, Mobile)
- Persona 4: The Slot (2013, Pachinko)
- CR Persona 4: The Pachinko (2015, Pachinko)
- Persona O.A. (2018, Mobile)
- BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle (2018, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC; 2019, Arcade)
- Joker: Ren Amamiya, the main protagonist of Persona 5, is the first DLC character for the game (excluding Piranha Plant before January 31, 2019) via the Fighters Pass.
- Yu Narukami: The primary protagonist of Persona 4 games. Acting as a suit for Mii Swordfighter.
- Makoto Yuki: The protagonist of Persona 3 (The Journey), primary protagonist role replaced by Aigis in Persona 3 (The Answer). Acting as a suit for Mii Swordfighter.
- Tsubasa Oribe: despite being classified as a Fire Emblem spirit, her original game is Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, who is a crossover game between the Fire Emblem universe and the Shin Megami Tensei universe.
- Phantom Thieves of Hearts
- Caroline and Justine
- Ryuji Sakamoto
- Ann Takamaki
- Yusuke Kitagawa
- Makoto Niijima
- Futaba Sakura
- Haru Okumura
- Goro Akechi
Mementos: Memento-based Persona stage is confirmed to come packaged with Joker. Colors and BGMs will change based on three known series from Persona 3 - 5. Blue represents Persona 3, Yellow represents Persona 4, and Red represents Persona 5.