Dark Cloud is an action role-playing game played from a third-person perspective, in which the player moves through procedurally-generated dungeons, battling monsters and collecting items. On random dungeon levels, the player may have the option of entering a separate "back door" area which contains stronger monsters and rarer treasure. Although the majority of combat involves real time hack and slash, the player will occasionally "Duel" an enemy. In this type of battle, the player must correctly press a sequence of buttons, similar to a quick time event. Whilst in dungeons, the player has both a health meter and a thirst meter. The thirst meter gradually decreases over time, and when fully depleted, it causes the health meter to begin to decrease. To prevent the thirst meter depleting, the player must drink water or step into one of the pools found on many dungeon levels.