World Exploration is the main game mode of Cookie Run: Kingdom. This mode tells the tale of GingerBrave and company's journey through Earthbread. Currently, there are 14 Episodes in World Exploration, each having a Story mode and a Dark variant.
Depending on how well the player fares in a Stage, they will earn Stars. Earning Stars rewards the player with Crystals and adds to the Star total in an Episode, which can provide even more gifts when filled. Clearing with one Star gives 20 Crystals (otherwise known as the First Win reward), two Stars gives one Star worth 20 Crystals and another worth 30 for 50 total Crystals, and three Stars gives one 20-Crystal Star, one 30-Crystal Star, and one 50-Crystal Star for a total of 100 Crystals.
To earn three Stars, a Stage must be cleared with all Cookies left in battle. A star is deducted for each Cookie that is knocked out, but a Stage's Star total cannot be under one Star if the player is victorious. This means that having 5 Cookies left gives three Stars, 4 left gives two Stars, and 3-to-1 left gives one Star. Players are able to revisit completed Stages that have less than three Stars to try again for more Stars and thus more rewards.
Each Episode's total amount of Stars always equals the number of Stages in the Episode times three. Collecting Stars fills the Star counter of the Episode; Crystal rewards are given at the one-third, two-thirds, and all-Stars marks in a Star counter.
Dark Mode is an alternate version of Story Mode that is much more difficult but offers more rewards of higher value. It also has its own storyline that follows some of those aligned with the Darkness, focusing greatly on Dark Choco Cookie in particular.
To unlock Dark Mode, Pilgrim's Path must be completed in Story Mode. Once Dark Mode is unlocked, all Stars in an Episode's Story Mode variant must be collected before the Dark Mode version can be accessed.
Each day, the number of attempts for a Dark Mode Stage is limited: a Stage may be completed only three times and four more attempts can be added with Crystals for seven total. The number of attempts is deducted only after a Stage is cleared successfully, so losing on the Stage will not take away from the allotted attempts.
Soulstones can be acquired as rewards for completing certain Dark Mode Stages. The number of attempts allowed on these Stages is the same as any other Dark Mode Stage—however, the player is guaranteed to be rewarded at least one of the applicable Soulstone for every three Stage clearings. However, these stages also cost more than twice as many Stamina Jellies to attempt as other Dark Mode stages.
Dark Mode's Star system functions in the same manner as that of Story Mode, but the final Crystal reward for acquiring all Stars in an Episode is replaced with a specific Cookie's Soulstone(s).