KickBeat is a martial arts-themed rhythm action game. The player controls a fighter in the middle of an arena surrounded by opponents. They approach the character's inner circle. A colour lights up in one of four directions and when the enemy highlighted in white steps into that coloured circle, matching the soundtrack's beat, the player needs to press the matching button to perform an automatic attack that takes him out. Enemies come in different colours. Yellow enemies represent single beats, blue ones double beats, and red ones two notes at the same time. Some enemies also have auras that require you to hold a note and then release. A combo can be built up by not missing any beats, filling up a Chi meter. When full, it can be activated similar to the Guitar Hero series to double the score modifier. Only a limited amount of damage can be received or the session is over. Certain enemies carry Chi or health power-ups that are grabbed by quickly pressing the button a second time. A shield power-up temporarily protects the fighter and an attack power-up blasts the enemies on the screen.
Visually there are different environments and enemy types, such as soldiers, wrestlers and ninjas. In the main story mode you control Lee as he tracks down a criminal who has stolen all the music in the world. After completing the story mode a campaign with the female character Mai can be played with the same progression, but with different cut-scenes. There is also a training mode, free play and a survival mode, as well as multiple difficulty levels. The PS3, PS Vita and the PC versions have a Beat Your Music mode where custom songs can be imported to play the game with your own soundtrack in levels that are generated by analyzing the music.
The game's soundtrack includes songs by Blue Stahli, Celldweller, Marilyn Manson, Papa Roach, Pendulum, Pre-Fight Hype, P.O.D., Rob Zombie, Shen Yi, Southpaw Swagger, Styles Beyond and Voicians with 18 songs in total. The later released Special Edition and Steam Edition add six songs by enV from Electronic Super Joy. The PS3 and PS Vita versions are Cross Buy.