5 Games to Fill the ‘Persona 5’-Shaped Hole in Your Heart

Branden Johnson
Games
Games

Maybe you never saw it coming, but Persona 5 entered your life and, 100 hours later, has left you satisfied in ways that few other games have. Now, if history is any indication, it will be a long time before we see Persona 6. What are you supposed to play until then? Here are five games that will scratch the Persona 5 itch until Atlus delivers a successor to 2017’s best RPG.

Persona 4

If Persona 5 was your first Persona experience, you’re in luck: Persona 4 is more of what you love. Fantastic characters and writing weave together a story that’s as crazy and unforgettable as the one told in Persona 5. Not to mention you’re already well-versed in the combat system (not much changed between sequels). You won’t have guns anymore, but you’ll be able to summon all manner of hyper-powered Personas to do your bidding. Remember the melancholy you felt saying goodbye to your Persona 5 friends when that game ended? Well, get ready for more tears when Persona 4 wraps up. Perhaps even more so than Persona 5,  this game’s characters really worm their way into your heart.

An honorable mention to Persona 3, as well. Some people even prefer it to Persona 4Although the lighter tone of the latter game gives it the edge over its predecessor. Honestly, every recent Persona game could’ve earned a spot on this list (Persona Q, Persona 4: Dancing All Night, the Persona 4 Arena games). But what fun would that be?

Shin Megami Tensei IV

The Persona series is actually a spinoff of the popular Shin Megami Tensei games. The focus in Shin Megami Tensei is on dark plots and mid-battle conversations with demons, much like Persona 5. In Shin Megami Tensei IV, you are a knight of an honorable order sent into a dungeon to investigate demonic disturbances. What you find is truly stunning and turns your concept of the world upside-down.

Battles range from fairly difficult to absolutely insane. This is not a game for the weakhearted. You’ll need to master your demonic helpers’ powers if you want to succeed. Many of them will be familiar faces from the Persona series. You’ll already have a leg up by knowing the meanings of the various spell names, such as Mazio meaning lightning. Also, check out the pseudo-sequel, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse. It has hundreds of hours of gameplay and is a real challenge to boot.

Final Fantasy XV

One of the biggest draws of Persona 5 is spending time with the characters, watching their friendships grow and change, and feeling like you’ve become friends with them, too. It’s difficult enough for a game to make you care about a fictional character; getting you to think of them as friends is even harder.

That’s where Final Fantasy XV succeeds, in a way no other Final Fantasy has. The adventures of Noctis, Prompto, Ignis, and Gladio become less about the Big Bad Evil they must defeat and more about exploring the friendship between these four young men. Right from the start, it’s clear how much these characters like each other. From everyone’s playful ribbing of Prompto to Ignis’s fussing over Noctis’s dietary needs, these are real people with a real friendship. It helps that Final Fantasy XV is a fun, action-packed RPG. The game mechanics will keep you busy, but the characters are the reason you’ll stick around.

Danganronpa (series)

The Persona games are mysteries. While Persona 4 takes this quite literally, setting up a murder mystery investigation, at their core, every title is about unraveling the circumstances around the protagonists. If you can’t get enough of anime teenagers solving crazy crimes, you need to give Danganronpa a try. While a very different sort of game from Persona 5 (it’s more of a mini-game-filled visual novel), you’ll see the similarities right away. A bunch of quirky teens gathered together, forced by a wise-cracking stuffed bear to kill each other — the plot wouldn’t feel out of place in the Persona universe at all.

Each game in the main series revolves around a series of “class trials.” One of your classmates is murdered, and it’s up to the rest of you to figure out whodunnit or risk being executed also. You’ll fall in love with the characters, though you’ll know any of them could be taken from you at any moment. Do yourself a favor and start with the original, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. Later games will have a much bigger impact if you play them in order.

Catherine

I couldn’t write this article without mentioning the Persona team’s downright bizarre puzzler. Catherine isn’t an RPG about teenagers solving mysteries, it’s the story of Vincent, a man in a long-term romantic relationship who is beginning to waver in his commitment. At night, he dreams he becomes a sheep and must climb a seemingly endless tower or suffer a horrible death in real life. Yeah, it’s got the Persona weirdness for sure.

Despite its oddities, Catherine is one of the most grown-up looks at life and relationships in any game, period. Its story and gameplay are completely separate entities, but you’ll fight your way through each tower-climbing puzzle to find out what happens next to the hapless Vincent.

While nothing can replace Persona 5, this is truly a golden age for offbeat Japanese games. Everything on this list comes highly recommended — even if you somehow never played Persona 5. For those who have, these games will ease your pain until Persona 6 comes around.

Branden Johnson
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