Sylvan Tale follows the typical action-adventure game formula: The player controls a character who must solve puzzles, fight enemies, and talk to non-player characters in order to acquire special powers and items that will allow him to unlock new areas of the game world and solve the puzzles within. While the player may revisit areas, the game progresses in an essentially linear fashion, as each area can only be accessed if Zetts(the player character) has acquired a specific item or ability from the previous area.
A key goal in the game is gathering the six droplets that comprise the Seed(Zetts's weapon) and the six tablets that unlock the Seed's six forms. These forms are:
- Sword - Used against enemies. Acquiring a specific droplet gives the sword the "hundred-slice" technique.
- Turtle Armor - Worn by Zetts. When hiding in his shell, Zetts is invulnerable and may be launched up by flame jets. With a specific droplet, Zetts can launch himself at high speed while hiding in his shell.
- Mole Suit - Worn by Zetts, giving him the power to slash small rocks to pieces and talk to moles. With the right droplet, he can also dig into cracks in floors.
- Merman Formula - Turns Zetts into a merman, allowing him to swim in lakes. He can dive underwater in certain spots after acquiring the right droplet.
- Mouse Spell - Turns Zetts into a mouse. As a mouse, he moves at top speed, enters tiny passageways, talks to other mice, and can more easily avoid attacks due to his small size. He also wields a mouse-size sword, though it is never explained where it comes from. With a certain droplet, he can magnetize himself to metal balls as well.
- Bird Feathers - Worn by Zetts, allowing him to fly over low-lying obstacles. Serves no purpose in completing any of the game's puzzles.
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