Pillars of Hercules is a game in the match-3 genre. In this game, players have to form matches or groups of at least three identical tiles by swapping adjacent tiles or pieces. Swapping is done using the left mouse button. When matches of three or more identical tiles are made, these will be removed from the game board and the remaining pieces will fall down to take the place of the removed tiles. Included in the game grid are pieces of artifacts. Players can assemble the artifact by driving the pieces through the bottom of the game grid by matching the tiles under them. The artifact pieces will be added to the outline of the artifact on the left of the game window. When the artifacts are completed, they show a map of the next destination or level set. Some of the artifacts are the Amphora of Dionysius and the Shield of Nebuchadnezzar.
Players can also gain bonuses in the same way. Some of these bonuses include a hammer to break problematic tiles with and a clock to give the player extra time. At the end of each level, the game statistics are shown. This includes the number of matches made, bonuses, artifact pieces, chain matches (when there are more than three tiles in a match), bonus lives gained, time finished, time bonus, score, and the player’s total score.