Ring Cycle is based on Richard Wagner's (1813-1883) "Der Ring des Nibelungen", a cycle of four operas incorporating German and Scandinavian mythological elements, including the titular "Ring of the Nibelung". Taking the role of Siegmund, son of Volsung, the player is instructed to look for ten quest objects in three-dimensional landscape both under and above ground, and question Wagnerian characters such as Alberich the Dwarf and Brünnhilde the Valkyrie for their whereabouts. Siegmund can also collect fireball ammunition and flagons of mead and other bonus items along the way, and engage with enemies in fireball duels.
The game uses a modified engine from Mike Singleton's previous effort Lords of Midnight III: The Citadel. Although the Lords of Midnight series were all hybrid games with elements of strategy and role-playing in them, Ring Cycle plays as a straight action/adventure. The player can choose between first and third-person camera modes, and has to manage Siegmund's health and dispose of enemies efficiently to prevent being resurrected and placed back in the centre of the gameworld, losing most of the inventory items in the process; quest items, however, stay once obtained. The soundtrack consists of approximately 25 minutes of instrumental extracts from Wagner's Ring, arranged and produced specifically for the game.