Persona, or Shin Megami Tensei: Persona as it was formerly known in the West, is a long-running Spin-Off series of Atlus's Shin Megami Tensei franchise, consisting of multiple video games, animated works, comic books, light novels, etc.
Unlike the Cyber Punk / The End of the World as We Know It worlds of the main SMT series, Persona takes place in a contemporary Urban Fantasy high school setting that utilizes Anthropomorphic Personifications of Carl Jung's persona and shadow concepts as its central motif: Characters in the series use the eponymous Persona, manifestations of their own personalities, to combat Shadows and various other representations of the collective darkness in the heart of humanity. The games also employ Tarot Motifs, with Personas, Shadows and most characters divided into the 22 Major Arcana of the standard deck. Despite these differences from mainline SMT, the series still employs numerous elements from its forebear: Personas take the form of various mythological figures from numerous cultures, the games use the main series's Fusion Dance and Elemental Power systems, and entries from Persona 3 onward have variations of the Press Turn battle system from Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne.
Most of the games are Dungeon Crawlers where players obtain various Personas to fight on their behalf. Persona 3 also introduced numerous social/life simulator aspects to the franchise, mostly notably the "Social Links" system, which added 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, Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment, 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 exploring a giant tower of Shadows 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 teenager framed for assault and put on parole who stumbles into a world made of cognitive thought where he and his friends become Phantom Thieves to steal the "hearts" of the corrupt adults sowing discord in reality and the world of thoughts.
Games in the Series:
- Shin Megami Tensei if... (1994; Super Famicom)note (Japan only)
- Persona 2
- Persona 3
- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (2006; PlayStation 2)
- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES (2007; PlayStation 2)
- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable (2009; PlayStation Portable)
- Persona Mobile Online (2009; mobile phones, Japan only)
- Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (2018; PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita)
- Persona 4
- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (2008; PlayStation 2)
- Persona 4 Golden (2012; PlayStation Vita)
- Persona 4: Arena (2012; Arcade, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360/Xbox One)
- Persona 4: Arena Ultimax (2014; Arcade, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) (Xbox 360 release only outside of Japan)
- Persona 4: Dancing All Night (2015; PlayStation Vita)
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (2014; Nintendo 3DS)
- Persona 5 (2016; PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4)
Other Works bearing the Persona name
- Persona -trinity soul- (2008)
- Persona 4: The Animation (2011-2012)
- Persona x Detective NAOTO (2012) (Japan only)
- Persona 3: The Movie
- Movie 1: Spring of Birth (2013)
- Movie 2: Midsummer Knight's Dream (2014)
- Movie 3: Falling Down (2015)
- Movie 4: Winter of Rebirth (2016)
- Persona 3: The Weird Masquerade (2014-2017) (Japan only)
- Persona 5: The Day Breakers (2016)
- Persona 5: The Animation (2018)
- BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle (2018; Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, PC): A Fighting Game Crossover with Persona 4: Arena, BlazBlue, Under Night In-Birth, RWBY and more.
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018; Nintendo Switch): Joker from Persona 5 appears as a DLC Guest Fighter, alongside Mementos as a stage, music from the Persona series plus new remixes, and various cameos by the Phantom Thieves.
- Catherine: Full Body (2019; PlayStation 4): The Phantom Thieves have their own storyline in the game's Babel mode, with Joker as a playable character.