By Diego Hernandez / June 15th, 2020
|Title||The Expression Amrilato|
|Release Date||June 13th, 2019|
|Genre||Yuri, Romance, Visual Novel|
It’s finally time to talk about a very special visual novel in The Expression Amrilato. A story that symbolizes a lot of firsts for the genre. In particular, I’m talking about how it’s the first visual novel supervised by the National Esperanto Association. As such, it’s the first visual novel localized in Esperanto. A promising girls’ love story now adds educational bits that can serve to help learn a real language. Will both elements combine beautifully to create a memorable tale for the mind and the heart? Or will the lack of balance be this game’s downfall? It’s time to take a trip down the road built by SukeraSparo and decorated by MangaGamer. Consequently, there’s really only one question that remains: How does it hold up?
It’s a day much like any other as you, Rin, are on your way to a delicious food stand. Why are you doing this? The store is the trending topic with your fellow classmates. Who are you to say no to some delicious food, am I right? You whimsically make your way to the store that’s not too far from home with a big grin on your face. In fact, you’re so particularly excited that you fumble your words and actions once you get there. Nevertheless, the food is secure. As you walk away with treat in hand, you nearly trip yourself. You have to be careful, don’t want to lose the prized possession. Wait a second, why is the sky pink? Why are all the buildings and people speaking a different language? Did this delectable treat do something to you? What is going on? Welcome to The Expression Amrilato.
The prologue to this visual novel is the most mysterious thing I’ve ever encountered. It’s just a girl wanting to get a good snack and ends up in a different world somehow. Furthermore, once she’s there, there’s no sign of how it happens or why. It’s a set of mind-boggling events and I love it. The feeling of actually starting from the bottom to figure out the world and the language is done so well that it gets you hyped for what’s to come. However, I can’t expect my main character to be equally enthusiastic about the challenge. This hand of fate is cruel to our airheaded main character and reasonably so. All she wants is to enjoy a good snack and be on her way to a standard high school life. Now she’s all by herself in a world where nobody can understand her. Let’s meet her, shall we?
This is Rin Takato, a standard high school girl who hates studying and loves being optimistic. However, recent events have made the latter more difficult to do. She must try her best to understand the world around her in hopes of finding a way back to her regular daily life. Aside from being an optimist, Rin’s also quite silly and airheaded as events unfold. Please be patient with her, she really is doing her best. A kind reminder that being in a new world with little to no knowledge can be quite traumatizing especially when you have no technology to aid you. Imagine being in her shoes, and it’ll be easier to understand it all.
In all honesty, it’s difficult for me to express what I feel about Rin. While it’s easy to understand her reaction to this bizarre scenario, what she does afterwards can be a little bit mind-numbing at times. Primarily, I’m talking about all the potential misunderstandings she causes. Make no mistake, misunderstanding arcs in any story are idiotic. However, this game has some room to play with given the language barrier, but it has to tread lightly. While Rin is trying her best, her rational thinking might not be the best and can lead to infuriating moments as a reader. You have to remind yourself you’re dealing with a traditional high school student. Speaking from personal experience, that’s not exactly the days of peak intellect. Fortunately for us, Rin is not alone in this journey. There is another girl, familiar with Rin’s dilemma, that will help her through troubling times.
I present to you Ruka, the girl who finds Rin after she fails to learn anything on her own. You could say Ruka is quite familiar with Rin’s circumstances as she’s able to slightly comprehend Japanese. Despite her young appearance, she becomes Rin’s guardian and begins to teach her the world’s language, Juliamo. She’s a cute looking girl with an equally cute personality. Furthermore, of the two, you could say she’s the more mature one. I’ve learned time after time that looks can be deceiving, and the point holds true here. However, it seems she’s got her own set of problems to work with, and it’s up to you to study harder and aid in whatever she may be going through.
On the flip side of my perception to Rin, Ruka is actually a lot more enjoyable. Her cute demeanor and the way she carries herself with Rin provides some of the purest interactions ever. If it weren’t for her, Rin would tumble down the stairwell of despair. A welcome addition to the mystery that is travelling between worlds in such a freaky manner. Let her warm your heart aplenty, after all this situation is crazy. What else can I say?
Two characters, two worlds, and a whole bunch of mysteries. There’s so many questions that The Expression Amrilato needs to answer, but does it answer them all? As each day progresses, you learn more about the language thanks to the convenient testing feature. The more you learn, the more your main character is able to catch and decipher certain words in a sentence. This enables the UI to update certain words accordingly and give you a sense of progression to how far you’ve come. I believe it’s unlikely that your score matters but try not to upset Ruka if it does. The more you learn, the more the story progresses and ultimately leads you down a path with a life-changing choice. In short, the language learning mechanics that you’ll see are a continuous stream of fun minigames that’ll hopefully allow you to slowly understand the mystery.
Unfortunately, some of the early choices might throw you into a daze as you have no clue what’s going on. Context is important so pay attention to as much of the script as you can and make choices accordingly. That’s how simple the game is. What makes it difficult? That would be the Esperanto half of the script. In short, unless you’re already fluent, you won’t understand the full script in your first playthrough. This can lead to some rather anticlimactic endings that can knock out any motivation you have to continue playing. Do not be discouraged, enable the convenient translate all option unlocked after your first ending, and press on. Or at least try to, for only then will you have all the answers.
While you journey forth to uncover the answers, you’ll be glad to know that you’ll be accompanied by some wonderful art. The character sprites and some in-between dialogue animations give life to a script riddled with fun. Since you can’t understand a third of the script anyways, might as well look at the cute characters in motion. The background art is also well done. The pink sky, while lovely at first, will serve as a reminder of your mission. The multi-language voice acting provides some nice life to all your favorite Rin-Ruka interactions. Everything so far and so good, only for it to tragically come short.
While I had fun watching Rin and Ruka grow ever so closer in The Expression Amrilato, there’s an elephant in the room. The game’s story and the explanation for the main mysteries get left behind. It seems like they put all their eggs in the language learning experience basket and forgot about why we’re here. Without giving specifics, I’ll just say we hop genres from mystery to slice-of-life so quickly that it makes me uncomfortable. You’ll receive tidbits here and there from supporting characters, but they’ll fall on flat ears. The game slowly shifts into a relaxing tale with suspicions in the rear view mirror. The translated script won’t help. It’s already a struggle to try and be motivated to read this as the pace is quite slow. I really took my time with this game for the review simply because it can’t keep readers on the hook. That’s it.
For what it’s worth, The Expression Amrilato is a beautiful language learning voyage that’s easy to get into. If you head into this simply thinking it’s a tale of two girls slowly falling in love you won’t be disappointed. I can’t say the same if you expect anything else, especially if you read the synopsis or the prologue. It does have difficulty retaining readers expecting more lore about the world, but as a fan of girls’ love you’ll get what you came for. I played for a nice 22 hours which properly warrants the $24.99 price tag on Steam. In conclusion, lower your story expectations and you’ll have a really good time. Congratulations to SukeraSparo and MangaGamer.
Game provided by publisher for review purposes.
AmrilatoEsperantolocalizationMangaGamerSukeraSparoThe Expression: Amrilatovisual novelVNyuri