Some advice on maximizing the chances of avoiding bad endings (but no guarantees; there’s a fair bit of luck in the system).
Tips and Tricks
Disable tutorials (maybe not the first time you play). The tutorial makes you spend some of your starting cash on skills before you know which skills you’re going to need first. Keep the cash and spend it wisely.
All About Cash Management
Fundamentally, the game is all about cash management, choosing your rerolls, and knowing what’s essential to progression. Do not spend money on skill progression until you are faced with a challenge where you think it’s necessary or helpful. But don’t be shy about spending money then; it’s easy to get into a spiral of negative statuses, and you want to succeed in actions whenever feasible.
Get All 3 Pizzas Early, and Grab Ingredients Whenever Feasible
You get your first pizza quickly, at the line. Each pizza gives you a pizza die, and each pizza die is an opportunity to earn money (or regain lost health or nerve). Three pizza dice is obviously better than one. Ingredients are gained at the boxes with bouncing green arrows. In the early game, prioritize getting the pizzas and ingredients over other actions, so when you take other actions, you maximize your opportunity to gain money.
Where Pizzas Are Found
One early, at the line. One in the green room, which is most easily accessible through the fire escape in the alley (there are also ways into it from the club). It is worth prioritizing any of the three challenges that allow you access to the fire escape early, to obtain that pizza.
The third pizza is in the kitchen, which can be accessed through the alleyway back door. The easiest way in is to win the three “line” challenges in front of the club, then the topmost challenge with the bouncer, who will give you the password to get in through the back door.
Where Ingredients Are Found
At game start, there’s a box by the first pizza station and another down the alley. Grab them at once and make your first pizza.
When you unlock the green room (probably up the fire escape), there’s another box (and a second pizza). Similarly, in the kitchen there’s a box, and a third pizza.
More obscure: One of the puddle challenges provides an ingredient; so does the dumpster in the alley (not advised for early players, as it’s non-trivial, and will likely confer a negative status).
There’s a box near the reception desk; access to it is open once you have dealt with the bouncer, even if they told you to go to the back door (go there and come back).
Another box is available by the club manager (blue haired) once you get into the club; another in the security room (do not attack the tennis fan there, just take the ingredients).
And there’s a box in the DJ area, but you are likely to get to it last, because you need either to get through the door from the green room, or beat a challenge against the guard at the base of the ramp from the dance floor. But it’s worth getting to it, if you can, even before you’re ready to deal with Chad.
Two other things: Ingredients can be obtained by pickpocketing the lady in the animal skull mask, and the dancers. Before trying this with the skull lady, use the “physical comedy” challenge to improve her mood; before trying it with the dancers, figure out how to get into the bar and buy drinks for the house. Both will improve your odds.
Ingredient distribution is randomized with each game. Not “completely randomized;” the ingredients available before you get into the club are kind of crap (olive oil and red sauce). But just because you found the pepperoni in one location on one playthrough, don’t assume you’ll find it in the same place next time.
What the Ingredients Are
Olive oil regains nerve, if you’ve lost it. Red sauce regains health. If you have a plethora of ingredients relative to pizza slots, and aren’t down on health and/or nerve (and don’t have negative statuses that put them at risk), retire these in favor of things that make you money (then run to the nearest pizza station to add them back, when you’re low on health or nerve).
Three ingredients confer money directly: factory mozzarella ($2), buffalo mozzarella ($4), and pepperoni ($8). Spread them about your pizza to maximize potential revenue.
Basil is a “x2” on revenues from other dice; if you have two basil, put them on different pizzas to give yourself a chance at a x4.
Peppers let you reroll one of your opponent’s dice, which is really useful at times. If you have two, put them on different pizzas to maximize that opportunity.
Go Back to Take Challenges
You want to maximize your income, in order to ramp up your skills. Quite often you will (and should) walk away from challenges you aren’t ready for yet (or are not on the critical path for success). It’s worth backtracking and looking at these at times; if you’ve leveled up, and can defeat the challenge with a high level of confidence, then do so. The money you might make off your pizza dice alone is worth it.
“Global” skill increases (you pay to increase all die-roll slots in a skill) should absolutely be taken the first two times. Going from 000111 to 111222 costs $12, and from 111222 to 222333 costs $18, which is cheap. Once you’re at 222333, however, you should only be paying to increase individual slots.
Why? Because money is always going to be your scarce resource. A global increase has escalating costs. And (unless playing on high difficulty levels), you always have two rerolls. If your rating is, say 222455, that cost you a lot less than increasing things to 444555, and you can probably get a 4 or 5 out of your rerolls. Sure, you can be totally screwed and wind up with a 2, but with two rerolls, that’s only a 1/8 probability.
And never just pay gaily to increase a skill: Hmm, cooking would be nice. Wait until you’re at a critical roll, and increase then.
No skill increase is bad; but be judicious about where and when you spend.
To rescue Gemini and not end up a pizza slave of Big Mo, you need:
To DJ effectively, and to provide good flamingo stew. And then face one or two challenges with him.
This is not easy. You will likely fail multiple times.
This is a bit easier if you persuade the sound engineer to leave, which is non-trivial.
Ingratiating yourself with Chad is far easier if you a) deal with his manager (in the green room) and discover the contractual gotcha; and b) unmask the masked lady.
Once you’ve done so, succeeding as a DJ helps if you’ve ingratiated yourself with the dancers. And have l33t skillz.
You need to persuade the chef to let you take over, then overcome two of the three cooking challenges that ensue to make Big Mo feel kindly toward you.
Even if you do these two things, the challenges with Big Mo are HARD. You want to win two if at all possible before telling Gemini to bug out.
You need to have opened at least one exit route: front door (laser barrier gone), green room (door open and fire escape extended) or garage (door open and car keys acquired).
You Will Fail (at First)
I’ve seen comments saying “it’s only a 2 hour game.” Sure it is, if you’re okay with failure as an ending. Better is possible. You’re not likely to get there in your first two hours.
Tamp the Difficulty Down
This isn’t an easy game to beat. Don’t feel ashamed to knock the difficulty down, for your first few plays.