Persona: Golden vs Royal vs Strikers

Persona is a series that I’ve fallen head over heels for, and every time I pick up a new entry I have a blast with it. Here are the three fantastic games I’ve played so far:

  • Persona 4: Golden
  • Persona 5: Royal
  • Persona 5: Strikers

Now that I’ve finally completed all three, I can do one of my trademark Power Rankings (pitting each game against each other in categories, giving a score out of 10 for each). There may be some SPOILERS ahead, so tread carefully.

Before we begin, you can check out some of my related blog posts below:


This category looks at how the story begins, unfolds, and ultimately concludes. A strong plotline throughout is better than a few highlights here and there in this case.

BEST: Golden [9]

Part of the reason I picked up Persona 4 Golden in the first place was that one of its tags on Steam was “detective”, and a friend told me that it would follow a murder mystery plotline. It did not disappoint.

The serial killing in Inaba is expertly handled, with a plot and mystery that never let its foot of the gas and kept me invested at all times.

SECOND-BEST: Royal [8]

What started off as a fairly standard story about beating bad guys soon turned into an endearing tale that explored the deepest desires of mankind.

Royal has one of the most crowd-pleasing stories I’ve ever seen – it doesn’t have a mystery that hits quite as hard as Golden’s, but I loved seeing the characters navigate their problems and come out victorious on the other end.

WORST: Strikers [7]

I was a bit disappointed to find that Strikers followed similar story beats to Royal, that being the idea of the Phantom Thieves changing the hearts of the wicked, but in fairness they did mix it up a bit.

The new characters end up influencing the plot in interesting ways, and even though the general formula was the same it was a fresh spin on Royal’s philosophies.


Fairly straightforward – I’ll be looking at the main and supporting cast for each game, and how well they vibed with / added to the overall experience.

BEST: Golden [9]

Persona 4 is known for its legendary cast – most seem to agree that it’s the strongest group of central characters in the series.

More so than any other game, Golden’s investigation team felt like genuine real-life friends that would hang out together off-screen, and their interpersonal moments of bickering and friendship endeared me to all of them. Apart from Teddy.

SECOND-BEST: Royal [8]

Persona 5 starts out strong with a core cast of characters that feel more fleshed-out than ever, but it’s sadly a case of diminishing returns.

A lot of the later characters, especially Haru, don’t get nearly enough time to properly gel with the crew, and as a result they feel like shallow afterthoughts. I was going to rank this last, but then I remembered that Akechi is one of the best-written characters in the series.

“WORST”: Strikers [8]

Even though Strikers came in last for this category, I still loved its cast of characters to bits.

Not only do the Phantom Thieves return (with some lesser utilised characters like Haru getting more development), but new players like Sophia and Zenkichi add a fun dynamic to the group.


Dungeons in Golden, Palaces in Royal, Jails in Strikers – you get the picture. The meat and gravy of any Persona gameplay. I’ll be looking at boss battles in a separate category – this is more about dungeon layouts and aesthetics.

BEST: Royal [9]

After playing the linear dungeons of Golden, Persona 5’s Palaces felt like the biggest technical leap forwards ever.

The developers went out of their way to make every Palace layout and decor appropriate to the ruler, and I loved the little puzzles they threw at me to mix things up. Would’ve been a perfect ten if not for Okumura’s Spaceport stinking up the gaff.

SECOND-BEST: Strikers [8]

Strikers dumps you in the middle of entire cities and tells you to go nuts, which I really appreciated at first. Sadly, its the vastness of the Jails that lets them down.

The huge environments mean there’s less of a focus on detail, and a lot of the early Jails especially felt formulaic and by-the-numbers. But hey, at least they give you entire cities to explore!

WORST: Golden [7]

When I first played Persona 4 I was a little underwhelmed by its bog-standard dungeon layouts, but after Royal they seem even more archaic.

The linear, one-note designs let them down, but in fairness the developers make up for the technical shortcomings but adding tons of environmental detail and complex puzzles.


The Persona series is known for its banging soundtracks, so this will be a tough category to separate.

BEST: Royal [10]

Let’s not beat around the bush – Persona 5 Royal’s soundtrack absolutely slaps, and it’s easily one of the best soundtracks in all of gaming.

The acid jazz tracks ooze style and charm, and even the most inconsequential of background themes or loading jingles have a special place in my heart.

SECOND-BEST: Golden [9]

One of the things that won me over when playing Golden, my first Persona game, was its soundtrack. It’s filled to the brim with fun and flair, and each track brings a unique, nostalgic vibe.

The only reason it doesn’t get a perfect ten score is that some songs got a little grainy and repetitive, and it definitely doesn’t hold up to the likes of Royal.

WORST: Strikers [7]

This will definitely be one of my most controversial takes on this list, but I think Strikers’ soundtrack is a little overrated.

Most of its stand-out tracks are just rock remixes of Royal classics, and the few songs that did it for me – like Jail themes – don’t have the same snap as other Persona songs.


Whether it’s the turn-based combat of Golden and Royal or the all-out hackand-slash of Strikers, this category looks at how the main cast took down the shadows blocking their way.

BEST: Royal [10]

I’m not really a turn-based combat kind of guy, but after playing Royal I’m starting to think I’m missing out.

It has all of the best aspects of creature-collecting RPGS, and the guns / baton passes add some brilliant dimensions to every encounter.

SECOND-BEST: Golden [8]

Golden’s combat system is really solid – collecting and using Personas in battle was so much fun, and the elemental affinities were a cool thing to keep track of.

Unfortunately, this is one of those categories where Golden suffers from hindsight. With all of the gameplay upgrades introduced in Royal, Persona 4 feels a lot more one-note and shallow.

WORST: Strikers [7]

This is definitely a subjective opinion, but I never really warmed to Strikers’ hack-and-slash combat style.

I much prefer the tactical turn-based stuff of the main series, as a lot of the time I felt as if I was button-mashing and mindlessly slogging through encounters.

Boss Battles

The combat and dungeon-crawling all led to this. Some of the Persona boss battles were truly outstanding … others not so much.

BEST: Golden [9]

They might not be as flashy as some of Royal’s boss fights, but Golden’s ultimate battles always boasted some excellent mechanics.

I don’t think there was a single flub in the whole game – every dungeon ended in a satisfying way, and each boss brought their own unique challenges.

SECOND-BEST: Royal [8]

The highs of Royal are much more memorable than Golden, but the lows are truly terrible.

Bosses like Kamoshida, Shido, Maruki and Yaldaboath brought the climactic drama, whereas others like Wakaba and especially Okumura (*shudder*) are experiences I’d rather forget.

WORST: Strikers [6]

I’ve already mentioned my grievances with Strikers’ combat system, so it’s no surprise the bosses let me down too.

The boss battles were much more tactical than the usual hack-and-slash gameplay, I’ll give them that, but they still felt like uninspired slug fests with hardly any distinguishable mechanics.


An underrated aspect of the Persona series is its depictions of both real and fictional Japanese settings – they’re all so atmospheric!

BEST: Royal [9]

Persona 5 shifted away from a fictional setting into the real world, and they couldn’t have chosen a better backdrop for the story than Tokyo.

All of the various districts and sites you visit are bustling with activities and ways to improve your infiltration skills, and even in the final stages of the game I felt as if I was uncovering new places and things to do.

SECOND-BEST: Golden [8]

Inaba isn’t as vibrant or graphically realised as the city of Tokyo, and the fixed camera was limiting, but it was still filled to the brim with side activities and charm.

On my first playthrough, I was blown away by how many places and side activities kept opening up to me as I progressed through the story, and the devs did a great job of making Inaba feel like a real town.

“WORST”: Strikers [8]

Strikers very nearly topped this category – not only was it set in real-life locations, with the same graphical style as Persona 5, but there were way more cities to explore than just Tokyo. Having been to a few in real life, like Osaka and Kyoto, I was wowed by how many landmarks I recognised!

Sadly, Strikers’ setting was a case of style over substance. While there were more cities to explore and shops to visit, that was pretty much the extent of the side activities. With a few mini-games and specialty shops, Strikers could have gotten a perfect ten score.


Arguably the most important category of all. It’s all well and good to have a methodical, perfectly designed videogame, but how fun is it to actually play?

BEST: Royal [10]

Gorgeous Palaces, a soundtrack that slapped from start to finish, memorable characters that you wish were your friends, a heart-warming story that tackled some mature themes, collecting a plethora of Personas, fascinating social commentaries …

Persona 5 Royal had everything I was looking for in a Persona game, and I was engaged in every single minute of its hundred-hour runtime. If Persona 6 even matches this game, let alone exceeds it, it’ll blow my mind.

SECOND-BEST: Golden [9]

Golden is a bit of a janky game (it released over a decade ago, after all), but what it lacks in polish it makes up for in overflowing charm

It was the first Persona game I ever played, and it hooked me enough to become a big fan of the series as a whole. If that’s not the highest praise, I don’t know what is!

“WORST”: Strikers [8]

While it was nowhere near as satisfying as the two mainline games I’ve played, and the combat never really won me over, I still had a great time with Strikers.

Its story started a little shaky but ended up roping me in, and it provided the classic Persona gameplay and charm I was looking for with some new twists along the way.

Final Scores

BEST: Royal [72/80]

Averaging a whopping 9.0/10, Persona 5 Royal is the clear stand-out of the games I’ve played so far. It improves the visuals, mechanics and combat in every conceivable way, with a story that kept me invested throughout.

Personally, I would even go as far as giving it a 9.5/10.

SECOND-BEST: Golden [68/80]

With a great average score of 8.5/10, Persona 4 Golden still holds up as a JRPG classic. While some of its gameplay and design can feel a little rough around the edges by today’s standards, it more than makes up for it with infectious charm.

My personal score would be around the 8.5/10 mark, so that worked out quite nicely!

WORST: Strikers [59/80]

No surprises here – Persona 5 Strikers finished bottom in every category apart from one, and it received an average score of 7.4/10 as a result.

I’m torn between a 7.5 or 8/10 for my personal score, but at the end of the day it was still a fun Persona game that I had a good time with.

Aaaand that’s my list! You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:

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