Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates is an action role-playing game; players take on the role of lead character Yuri in the single-player campaign, and a troop of adventurers in the co-op multiplayer mode dubbed "Multiplay". The player characters in both modes are selected from four playable races of the world; the balanced Clavats, tank-style Lilties, magic-focused Yukes, and ranged Selkies. Each character has specific weapon skills based around their race.: 5–15 The gameplay and general information is separated between the two screens of the Nintendo DS (DS): the in-game display is shown on the top screen, while the lower touch screen displays the menu and weapon selection.
The player explores the 3D environments from an overhead third-person perspective, with levels consisting of interlinked rooms filled with enemies and sometimes a puzzle blocking progress until solved. Combat takes place in real-time within areas of a level. The player character attacks enemies in each zone, with combined inputs of the DS face buttons and d-pad resulting in faster combination attacks. Different combinations of button prompts create a variety of attacks. During combat, players can jump on enemies and land stronger attacks. When defeated, enemies drop items and equipment, which can be equipped, used in crafting, or sold for the in-game currency gil.: 5–15 
Over the course of the game, the player character raises their experience level, which improves general statistics and Ai behaviour in single-player. Their equipment can be upgraded and replaced with more powerful types during the progress of the game. Some equipment and accessories also grant passive benefits and bonuses while worn.: 5–15  Casting magic in the game requires Magicite, which is picked up from defeated chests and defeated enemies; only a certain number can be held at any one time due to inventory limits. Magic is cast by holding down a button command and aiming it, with other characters joining in to create enhanced or new spells.
The player character's movement and actions are controlled using the DS face buttons and d-pad. By holding the right trigger, the displays switch screens and time slows, and tapping an enemy on the touch screen activates the player character's special attack at the cost of SP. A special ability is tied to a player character's race, and play a part in both combat and puzzles. Puzzles range in scope and complexity, with some relying on activating switches and others being based around timed doorways or finding keys.
In multiplayer, up to four players can connect using local ad-hoc connection through Nintendo Wi-Fi. Players can create up to eight characters, selecting from any of the four races. There are two modes within multiplayer; Quest mode, which is tied to the mode's scenario, and Free Mode, which allows players to explore dungeons and towns at their leisure. While designed for multiple players, it can be completed by a single player.: 5–7  Completing a level unlocks others of higher difficulty, and once all levels are completed new harder variations of them are unlocked. While online, players in either campaign can send messages to each other via Moogle Mail. Collecting Moogle Stamps during exploration unlocks a version of "Blazin' Caravans", a minigame featured in the original game.