Before we start. I am not promising all of these are great. I'm just going to talk about the ones I have personally played in brief. Now granted Persona is its own thing and in a league of its own. Still for those that never played a Persona but also want to try Persona 5 Scramble or played Joker in Smash. Know this. Scramble won't be quite the same thing as a normal Persona game but one of these games I mention will have a similar concept as that game. You can still get a taste of Persona. Think of it like Diet Persona or Persona lite. I will go in order from worst to best in my opinion.
Those who are curious but never played Persona. To put it as brief as I can. It's part high school simulator and part JRPG. Persona is a spinoff of the Shin Megami Tensei series. You always play as a high school student. Usually new in town. You meet new friends and you have to manage your limited time wisely in activities such as going out with friends. Shopping. Studying. The game uses a full year from the day you start to finish the game. No worries I never had issues. I always finished with a few months to spare that's with doing a lot of side activities. You and your friends have a power within you called a Persona. A demon that fights for you in turn-based combat. The boss of each dungeon is usually a demonic version of a troubled person in the real world. Not all the games but in some similar, to SMT you can bargain with a demon you are fighting to fight for you and collect them. Similar to Pokemon in that regard. You can have a romantic partner but this isn't the Witcher. No sex scenes. Persona has some great music in every game. Loads of style. They are excellent games and IMO better than SMT and SMT is great.
(5) Caligula Effect Overdose.
Of all the games I will talk about this is the closest to being an actual Persona game. It has social links where you rank up your friendship with other members of the party and other people in your school. It has a school setting. It makes sense as some of the dev staff worked on older Persona games like Persona 2. The game has a nice art style. It's not a bad game but it is also fairly mediocre and very budget. It's not the best looking game either. The battle system is pretty neat but believes me, play this game on harder difficulties otherwise even Normal is far far too easy. This game has a focus on music and idol culture. You play as either a male or female silent protagonist. Everyone is living in this digital utopia created by a Vocaloid. However, some are getting corrupted. Your character will play a double agent. The Musician (black skull character) and as the high school teen. The dungeons are colorful and interesting but feel somewhat empty. They do feel very similar overall to the older Persona games dungeons. The one area I took issue with was the aquarium. The fish don't move at all. I will post a video to sum this game up better than me. I enjoyed the game for what it was but def get it cheap. If I had to describe this game in short? If Persona is Coca Cola, then Caligula Effect is Shasta Cola.
(4) Dusk Diver.
This game might be the most similar to the upcoming Persona 5 Scramble. Now this game is more of a beat 'em up crossed with an action RPG. It does have social links that benefit you in battle. It has a colorful hub world as seen above. There is no party to manage. This game has a nice art style and some nice menus. The music, however, is mostly forgettable. While the combat is fun, it can get repetitive. The hub world doesn't have a lot to do at first but it opens with more ways to bring up your social link as time goes on. Visually this game is a bit rough on Switch. The fact it's so colorful helps hide some of the rough edges. before going into each dungeon you need the required amount of crystals to enter. You get these in 3 ways. Spend enough money at shops. Find them hidden in the hub world and in dungeons themselves. I never ran into a wall where I didn't have enough. They give you enough hints and you learn fairly quickly how this game thinks. If you still have trouble you can pay an old man to reveal their locations. It was fun but again fairly mediocre. Better than Overdose. The characters are enjoyable. The game isn't that difficult. Worth it at a budget price.
(3/2) Digimon Cybersleuth/Hackers Memory.
I have to say this. These are the only 2 Digimon games I've ever played. Unless they make a sequel to these, likely all I ever will play. These games are more akin to a Shin Megami Tensei game with a Persona atmosphere. Hackers' memory is a stand-alone side story to the main game of Cyberseluth. Now both of these games are about 40+ hours and you don't have to play both. Play the first if you just want to play one of them. Hacker's memory is more of the same. These are genuinely good games. Former SMT artists worked on both and it shows. Fun characters. Great music. Crisp bright visuals (at least on PS4, I have not played the Switch version) The story in each is fun. The battle system is a bit basic but not too bad. Evolving Digimon can be tedious at times since you have to de-evolve them to evolve them again to higher levels. You also have to manage RAM as you only have too much but you do get more as the game goes on. They give you enough so evolving them again isn't too difficult. Both share the same maps. Like most of these kinds of games, you explore a shopping district. The mall is your hub. There is one dungeon you go through several times so it can be a bit dull to see it again and again but never to the point of anger. These games you don't need to like Digimon or even Pokemon to enjoy.
(1) Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
I love this game when I played it on Wii U. It was my GOTY of 2016. I loved Persona 5 in 2017 and got the CE for both of these games. However, while not saying one is better than the other. I personally enjoyed TMS much more. Sure P5 had a bigger budget for sure and a slicker presentation. I just enjoyed TMS more as a game. I know nothing about Idol culture. Not something I'd be into but this game is charming. Fun characters. Enjoyable OST. One of the best battle systems ever in a turn-based RPG for me. The only time the localization was bad was an optional side story where they changed a character's wedding dress in such a lazy fashion is hilarious. Other than that. The changes to the west do not impact the game at all in a way that makes no sense. I do wish there was a little more to do in the hub world.
This video from GameXplain highlights perfectly it's comparisons to Persona.
Not played yet as they are not out but you can also be on the lookout for Shin Megami Tensei V and Persona 5 Scramble.
Bite my shiny metal Cockpit!