Dark Caves is a H.E.R.O. clone in which the you control a treasure hunter searching for treasure under the surface of the earth. Equipped with a jetpack, a short-ranged beam weapon and a limited number of bombs, you must reach the exit before running out of energy. The amount of energy available is displayed at the bottom of the screen. It depletes over time and when the jetpack or the beam weapon is used. When navigating through the caves, you must avoid contact with enemies, spikes and other deadly objects. The beam weapon can be used to dispatch enemies, while bombs are used to destroy walls. If you have run out of bombs, you can also use the beam weapon to destroy walls, which uses up a lot of energy.
In the final level, a Tetris-inspired puzzle has to be solved. However, instead of clearing lines, the goal in this case is to fill up the lower part of the screen without leaving a gap.