In Tarr Chronicles humanity is at war with an alien race. The player flies a space ship and is part of an expedition to retrieve an important artifact but just before the goal they get attacked by aliens. The fleet survives the battle but the mother ship gets damage which causes it to malfunction during the next hyper jump - and an odyssey begins... The story is told by written journal entries and conversations during the missions.
The game is divided into nine missions which basically consist of to killing a lot of enemies together with AI ships while flying to a certain point. The controls are action oriented; almost all actions regarding moving and attacking can be performed with the mouse. Of course the player can also use a joystick.
Before every mission he has also the possibility to customize his ship by using different parts which he receives after missions, e.g. weapon systems, shields or trunks. Every item has a certain weight and energy consumption which limits the player's creativity. If the player is not satisfied with the item variety he can enter the workshop and create his own - the needed resources are gained by disassembling other parts.