A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda is the first chapter of a futuristic action platformer series. On 30th May 2094 a space ship encounters an unidentified object in the Junk Sector. Twelve days later a team is sent in to investigate what has happened. They discover a fluorescent gas contaminating the station's air supply, overriding all circuitry. Dr. Julia Carson, who leads the team, sends a sample back to Earth but is soon reported to be held hostage along with the other survivors. The United Earth Chairman sends you to rescue her, equipped with a compound based on the sample, making your character immune to the zytron gas.
The player's character Ares is a robot with flexible armor. He is assisted throughout missions by Valkyl, a woman acting as a tactical support satellite. She provides information and briefings. Also, by fighting enemies, a Valkyl bar can be filled up. Ares can use it to call in her Valkyl Zypher Cannon attack, freezing the screen and damaging everything that is visible, similar to the support attack employed in the Streets of Rage series. The main character can be moved around, jump and duck. Additional movement options such as mid-air jumps and sliding are unlocked gradually. Aiming is controlled through a cross-hair separate from the main movement and it can be pointed towards any area on the screen. The basic starting weapon is a Zytron Blaster. The player moves through side-scrolling areas with minor platform sections and elevators, defeating enemies and a large boss at the end of every level.
Defeated enemies leave behind three types of materials (yellow, blue and red) that can be collected. By accessing the recycle menu, these materials can be converted into repair kits to restore health, weapon upgrades and different types of grenades. Most special attacks are performed through these grenades and they are also often needed to open up hidden areas. HE grenades blow up gas canisters and EMP grenades disable electronic gates. Enemies respawn as soon as you leave a screen, so returning to an earlier area always makes it possible to stack up on repair kits or other items. Additional items are data cubes and power cubes. They are usually hidden and provide new game content (character and enemy information) and additional power-ups respectively. There are also a few stations where health can be replenished entirely.
There are five main stages and after every stage Ares receives a new weapon, which can be upgraded further in the recycle menu. Halfway through the game the player also gains a new suit with new abilities.