While visiting China and perusing the local flea market, the psychic Dela Reese finds a mysterious riddle box amongst the offerings of a nearby stall. After solving its lock puzzle, she opens the artifact and is greeted by Hari, a powerful warrior who has been imprisoned for the last 2000 years, cursed with immortality. Now they must work together to keep an evil organization from gaining control of the riddle box, and figure out how to safely escape China together.
Tiger Eye Part I: Curse of the Riddle Box is a hidden object game with elements from the adventure genre based on a romantic book by Marjorie M. Liu, who also wrote the game's script. The player assumes the role of the main protagonist, seeing the world through her eyes and interacting directly with the scenery. Most of the time, the objective is to find and click on all the objects described on a task list at the bottom of the screen, on locations related to the plot and cluttered with assorted paraphernalia. Some of the list entries are actions that must be performed to finish the location and move to the next scene.
Clicking on certain objects and other scene fixtures brings up an interactive window with one of the mini-games, where a mechanism of some sort has to be manipulated to solve them. Hints can be bought with points received after completing puzzles and playing the occasional bonus rounds, where the goal is to find matching pairs as fast as possible. Most mini-games have two hints and a skip option that can be bought to complete the challenge.