Franchise / Shin Megami Tensei: Persona

"I am thou... And thou art I."
Arc Words for the entire series.

Persona, or Shin Megami Tensei: Persona as it is often known in the West, is a long-running Atlus series of video games, animated series, comic books and light novels, serving as a Spin-Off of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise.

Persona utilizes Jungian psychology as the main driving theme behind the series: for starters, characters in the series use their eponymous Persona, manifestations of their own personalities, to combat Shadows, the collective darkness in the heart of humanity. Both Personas and Shadows serve as Anthropomorphic Personifications of the original Carl Jung concepts of the persona and the shadow. Beyond this, the games also employ liberal use of Tarot Motifs. For example, Personas are sorted by the Major Arcana of the standard deck, and most important characters represent one Arcana in some form or another. Along with the usual Atlus weirdness, the games revolve heavily around David Lynch-esque Dark Worlds full of oddball residents.

The Persona series still has numerous ties to its parent franchise: the battle system in Persona 3 and 4 is a scaled-down variation of the Press Turn battle system that has appeared in a few SMT titles, the spells have a generally identical naming system, and Demon Fusion (called Persona Fusion in these games) plays as just an important role as it does in the mainline installments. Just like SMT, mythology factors heavily into the setting, as the vast majority of Personas take the form of numerous mythological beings from many cultures throughout the world. The actual role of mythology, rather than having characters directly interact with the characters of legend like in SMT, instead takes the role of appropriate allusions to the relevant tales, either with the game's setting or characters. Naturally, the games also have myriad Mythology Gags to mainline SMT.

Persona tends to be more forgiving (hence, more commercially profitable) than the mainline SMT series. Most of the games are Dungeon Crawlers where players obtain various Personas to fight on their behalf. Persona 3 also introduced the "Social Links" system to the franchise, which trades the monster negotiation of earlier titles for Visual Novel-esque vignettes that enhance combat abilities as the protagonist gets to know other characters better.

Persona began with the tale of a nameless high school student and his friends trapped in their Demon-infested hometown. This was followed by the Persona 2 duology, which expanded the universe with the story of an ongoing war between two manifestations of the collective unconscious, Philemon and Nyarlathotep.

Next came the radically different Persona 3, starring an orphaned teenager trying to juggle school and friends with a giant tower of Shadows, who now serve as the primary enemy force, looming over the town every night. Persona 4 followed with a supernatural murder mystery where a transfer student and his friends try to stop a Serial Killer who can use TV screens as portals to another world. Persona 5 moves onto the adventures of a teenage Gentleman Thief and his accomplices out to "steal the hearts" of corrupt people after crossing paths with a mysterious, shapeshifting cat.

Games in the Series:

Other Works bearing the Persona name