There are tons of tips and guides around. However, there are a few small tidbits that seem hard to find or are mentioned less frequently.
First Thing’s First:
Read tooltips! Whether it’s upgrades, weapon crafting, harpoon tips (not tips on how to use them, the actual tip upgrade for the sharp end), fish in your inventory, everything. Note that some things weigh a ton and give you maybe only 1 piece of fish. Consider discarding it. Be aware of the information given to you to understand what each thing is for.
Starting out, almost every item in the game has a use. Silver bowls, gold bar and the pearl are the only initial items that you just sell at the Cobra Shop (once it’s unlocked). Every other item is usually worth saving either for crafting or to sell at another shop later for a different currency for a higher value amount. These items usually have hints in the tooltip that state they would fetch a good price in the Cobra shop, or that they are an ingredient for crafting, etc.
There are three periods (technically four) in a day. There is a morning and an afternoon. During this time, you can drive the boat freely between your restaurant, the fish farm, the vegetable farm, or the branch store (when they are unlocked, at the start of the game you can only go to the restaurant). Time will not pass when you do these things. The only way to proceed to afternoon from morning is to dive or use the skip time feature. Note that you can stay on the dive for as long as you’re able to refill your air; there is no arbitrary time limit. My maximum dive time so far is a little over 51 minutes. Afternoon works just like morning, allowing another dive. Evening will be when you run a shift in the restaurant. Later, night diving will unlock but if you do a night dive, it is not a separate time unit, but rather takes 1/3 of the evening. This allows you to run the restaurant but only for 2/3 of the remainder of the evening. So if you night dive, you will make less money on food sales. However, there are missions that happen at night and fish that only appear at night. Once the restaurant shift finishes and you read through the reports on how your shop did, the screen transitions to the next morning.
What order you upgrade your dive gear is up to you. However, carrying capacity is always a problem, especially early. The cargo box is a very nice upgrade. The main reason why is because, you can overload yourself by going beyond your maximum weight, which will result in slower movement. It’s very easy to do throughout the early and mid-game. This can spell disaster when a predator strikes and you can’t maneuver. This problem is compounded by sprinting using more air. So watch your weight and be very careful when you are overweight. It’s especially important to not run low on air when overweight because a single attack could spell doom. Since air is like your hitpoints, air upgrades are also very nice. It’s tempting to go harpoon but taking harpoon first is more risky. Choose wisely.
The game will constantly progress. You will be wanting access to more of the game mechanics as soon as you can get them. Just do your best to have fun and remember the game won’t require anything of you without giving you access to the tools you need.
Pushing the Envelope:
It will be tempting to do risky things like diving deeper than your maximum depth which is possible but makes your air dwindle faster. This is a bad idea simply because your air level starting out is already very low. There are rarely any rewards or items really worth the risk. Once you expand your air supply and are better armed, then it is less risky. Be warned, if you run out of air you will end the dive session and be allowed to keep only one item from your carried inventory of gathered items! This is heartbreaking at times, especially when you’ve spent the last half hour gathering all sorts of materials and rare fish, only to lose it all by doing something not very smart. Know when to play it safe. It might be a good idea to swim side to side along the zone, staying close to the surface where you can retreat to the boat quickly rather than diving deeper; dive wider, not deeper, when starting out.
There is a percentage listed per fish tank that shows how full it is. As long as you have 99% or less density, you are good until the next morning. Fish will multiply like normal. Any fish roe (eggs) gathered during the day’s dives will not grow until the next morning so you do not need to visit the fish farm more than once a day. If you plan on trying to max out all recipes as a completionist sort of thing, then keep all fish types and keep at least 2 of each so you can grow more. If you only want to finish the game, you can sell off any fish you don’t plan to cook.
The rice paddy can be expanded two times. You only have to pull the weeds and harvest. After harvest, Otto will replant. The vegetable rows can be expanded from the first row to a total of four. Seeds must be bought and planted, plants must be watered, weeds pulled and plants harvested. Perhaps the biggest shock for me was the watercan upgrade. The watercan holds enough water for 10 plants, which is 2 short of a two rows. However, the first upgrade is 2000 gold. So I held off buying it. Well, it’s an interesting option because there is a second watercan upgrade for 3000 and then the real payoff, a sprinkler for 7000. Pricey, but you won’t have to water anything ever again. The achievement for this is held by only about 15% of players at this time so a lot of people are not upgrading to this point. Pricey but a very nice QoL upgrade. Also note that the signs at the north end of the fields show the overall nutrient level as a health bar. If you buy a nutrient pack and use it either in either farm or rice paddy, the next day the nutrients will jump up. High nutrients mean fewer weeds and better yield. So consider doing this when the bar starts to drop more than about 80% nutrients. There are three types of chickens. The white chickens do not give grade A eggs but they will give an egg every day. The brown chickens won’t always give an egg but sometimes it will be grade A, and the black chicken has the highest change of grade A egg. You can have 5 of each. There’s no reason not to have them all eventually. I would recommend white chickens first for those guaranteed eggs. the grade A eggs are used in specific recipes and you’re not likely to need them when you first unlock chickens (another story mission).
Staff can be trained to increase level and thus to increase their stats. They will also obtain a set skill at level 4 and the second skill at level 7. This means training each restaurant employee to at least level 7 is helpful. There’s a ton of guides out there but I’d say the two best servers for your store are El Nino and Raptor which means Dave can stand and watch as they do all the work Dave used to have to do. I tend to refill the wasabi just for something to do. In the kitchen, Maki (unlocked through story missions) and Yone are eventually the best cooks. Don’t be fooled by level 1 stats. Note that when you are hiring, you can select Details and see the employees prospective level 20 stats and the skills will be revealed. Once you reach gold level in Cooksta an internet ad will get you the best resumes as it attracts employees two levels above your current Cooksta level. At gold there are only 2 more levels.
I’ve read that prioritizing happiness of your patrons is the most important thing but I disagree. For one, getting gold level is a spot you should stop for a bit as going platinum will raise your nightly expenses to 2000 gold and give few rewards. At gold you can fully staff the restaurant and have access to all employees for hiring (using internet ads). The Cooksta levels come pretty fast without even trying, so focus on money by selling the highest price dishes you can.