Lego Bionicle: Quest for the Toa has been described as an action-adventure game and a platformer. The game adopts an isometric perspective and progresses through a series of linear levels. The game features six worlds in total and over 20 levels; a minigame is unlocked after the completion of each world. Within each world is a village; the player can interact with non-playable characters in each, learning information and additional moves.
Prior to the start of the game, the color of the head, arms, and legs of the playable character can be customized. The player controls Takua, a villager on the island of Mata Nui. As Takua, the player has access to a range of abilities: jumping, throwing objects, pushing stones, and using tools. The player can choose which tools to equip and assign them to the button of their choice in the pause menu. Health and item uses can be replenished by gathering fruit and berries scattered across the world, and some fruit can be used as projectiles. Projectiles are the primary method of defeating the enemies, which populate the game's worlds.