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Can I start the persona games at persona 5 or do I have to play the older ones first?

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They're pretty separate from a story aspect, but overall themes would carry over to the bigger picture.


TL;DR: No.

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Persona 5 it its own game. it's not related to the others, although they may share similar gameplay mechanics. there's some references here and there too but that's always a case for series-based games


but I highly recommend playing persona  3 and 4. the 3rd game will feel pretty old once you start playing 4 and 5 but it's still a nice experience. 

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Yea, it's like Final Fantasy.. some concepts were inherited but independent from the others.


I suggest you try to finish every palace as soon as possible. ;-)

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