Shaolin is a fighting game for the PlayStation. Duels take place in 3D fighting arenas. Between the fights, the player walks around in a typical J-RPG fashion in a full 3D world. The player can talk with various NPCs that populate the world. Some will challenge the player to a duel, which has to be won in order to progress in the game. Duels aren't always one versus one, but can include multiple enemies. The player starts the game with a young character which will age throughout the story to an old man or woman. Eating at restaurants restores health, but also has an effect on the look of the character. Sleeping at inns saves the game.
There are six different fighting styles that can be mastered, with each their own sets of moves and animations. In multi-player, the player can opt to play with four friends and up to an additional four NPCs in versus mode or battle royal.