Beyond Good & Evil is an action-adventure game with elements of puzzle-solving and stealth-based games. The player controls the protagonist, Jade, from a third-person perspective.
Jade can run, move stealthily, jump over obstacles and pits, climb ladders, push or bash doors and objects, and flatten herself against walls. As Jade, the player investigates a number of installations in search of the truth about a war with an alien threat.
In the game’s interior spaces, the player solves puzzles and makes their way past enemies in order to reach areas containing photographic evidence. Jade’s main tools are her Daï-jo combat staff (a melee weapon), discs for attacking at range, and a camera.
Jade’s health, represented by hearts, decreases when hit by enemy attacks. It can be restored using fictional food items and can be increased beyond the maximum with “PA-1s” that, when held by Jade or her companions, increases their life gauge by one heart. If Jade’s health is depleted, the game will restart at the last checkpoint. Certain stealth segments later in the game automatically kill Jade if she is detected.