A few tips for beating the game on Very Hard difficulty.
Guide to Beat the Game (Very Hard Mode)
Choose the Tailoring Station
Probably the most important tip. The Stove and Alchemy Station both require a garden to cheaply produce goods, which will also clog up your inventory. The Forge’s raw materials are (I think) a bit more expensive.
But the biggest reason for choosing the Tailoring Station is the upcoming autumn; clothing will sell with a bonus of +25% this season! Stock up as much as you can on clothing during spring and especially summer (materials will be cheaper in the summer) so you can earn fat stacks when the leaves fall.
Before the winter I also started selling and producing food (winter gives a sale bonus on food), but I doubt this is necessary. I think it’s possible to only use the Tailoring Station.
The mechanic that’ll bring in more customers and make you bank. I failed my initial run because I overlooked the importance of Shop Appeal. Ideally you want to keep this topped up. Be ready to buy the Shop Upgrades when they unlock, which in turn raises your Shop Appeal by another 5 points for you to fill.
Find the best decorations; some are more expensive than others for the Appeal they give. I used the Dusky Bush a lot since it fills up empty space you can’t buy yet anyway. It is also possible to level up the Appeal of furniture, but I found this didn’t make a big enough difference for me to invest in (useful in late game, once you’ve paid off your debt). And don’t forget to change your counter each time you unlock a new one for some extra Appeal.
Use All Your Space
Fill as much of your bought land as possible, no point in spending an increasing amount of money on pieces of land if you’re not going to use them. That money is better used for buying materials, furniture, storage and decorations. I often found myself selling furniture, land and decorations at night to buy materials from which to make more clothes.
During the last two debt payments (expensive!) I sold a bunch of Huge Pallets the night before in order to cough up enough money. You’ll spend the day shuffling around but at least you’re not bankrupt.
The Gameplay Loop
Open store. Stand in the middle of my Cupboards. Keep refilling them. Run over to the Trader just before he’s about to leave (so you have maximum money and storage). Cheap clothing materials are a must buy. Cheap bulk buys of clothing are useful as well, just make sure the discount is worth it. Homemade clothing is of a higher quality after all. Finish day.
Make clothing at night. They all sell at roughly the same rate, so try to have to same amount of each piece of clothing. When stocked up on clothing look to expand in other ways. Have storage space ready if possible for the trader. Open store.
Some Other Tips
Only put clothes on display. Even if you put one other type of item (eg. apple, coal, iron, tools) on display, customers will ask for others like it. This could cost you a lot of revenue, since if you dismiss or ignore them they won’t buy anything.
There are 20 increasing payments of debt. You’ll be finished paying after just over a year. You can miss one (1) payment. Your next payment will be double. Try to avoid this though. I can’t imagine the pain of failing the last payment because you missed an earlier one. Once you fail, your save is ‘soft-locked’ and you won’t be able to play on the save again.
All in all, not a terribly difficult achievement. But it can be a bit tedious at times and control over all the game’s mechanics is expected. Beating the game on Very Hard will also gain you the achievements of the lower difficulties. Any additions/suggestions are welcome.
This is what my shop looked like after I paid off my debt. Not terribly important, but might be nice as a reference.