I have to admit, whilst I am absolutely in love with Yuri (lesbian relationships or homoeroticism) visual novels, I was a bit hesitant at first when I heard of The Expression Amrilato for the very first time. Although its premise is a love story between girls, it also has the main feature of teaching you the language Esperanto, called Juliamo in the game, and is, therefore, an educational visual novel at the same time.
Although Esperanto wasn’t a language I was keen on learning, I still managed to learn a few important things here and there about it, which was definitely an interesting experience. The good thing is that there is also an option to skip the mini-games and just play through the story, in case you aren’t interested in trying to learning Esperanto and just want to experience the narrative.
The story revolves around a girl, named Rin, who is pretty much your average girl. One day, Rin decides to roam around her hometown’s shopping district to buy herself some Takoyaki, a fish-shaped snack. Suddenly, everything around Rin is changing and she finds herself in another world where the sky is always pink. Not knowing what is happening, she realises that the residents in this strange land are not talking Japanese but some unknown language instead. While Rin is on the brink of giving up, she meets Ruka, an angel-like girl who tries to help her. Evidently, Ruka is able to speak a little bit Japanese and so, Ruka decides to take her home and take care of our helpless heroine.
One thing I really enjoyed about The Expression Amrilato is that although it seems like a light-hearted game at first, with a lot of slice-of-life scenes, it actually thematises important topics which are still an issue in real life, such as bullying, racism or simply the helplessness when you are not in your own home country. While Rin is in this unknown world, the Esperanto parts don’t get translated by default as well, so you’re basically as confused as Rin is and therefore, I was able to relate to her perfectly even if she was acting a bit silly at times.
It seems quite logical that anyone would lose it if they suddenly found themselves in a strange world without anyone they know. Even though it was a fantasy story, I could relate to my own everyday life while playing this game and everything felt quite familiar.
Something I noticed is that the Yuri element is really light and fluffy in The Expression Amrilato. I would even dare to say that the learning Esperanto and Yuri is balanced and even without the mini-games, it is notable that the Yuri part isn’t going to be the only main genre. It offers really cute and heartwrenching romance which will leave an impression on you one way or another. I really liked that The Expression Amrilato talked about so many serious topics and it might even open one’s eyes about their own behaviour.
As previously aforementioned, there are mini-games available in The Expression Amrilato where you can test your knowledge about Esperanto. At first, you will get a few sheets of paper which contain words and their translations as well as any rules regarding the language. As soon as you feel ready enough for it, you can start the mini-game which basically requires you to memorise the previous sheet and answer accordingly. All mini-games are constructed entirely different from each other and while you only need to pick the right translation for a word for some, you will need to answer different kinds of questions for the other ones.
It is even possible to select a difficulty for a few mini-games. For easy, you need to only pick the right answer between three vocabularies, while medium will offer you four choices and hard, six. It is important to mention that The Expression Amrilato basically only teaches its player the basics of Esperanto such as numbers, vegetables, conjugations, etc. and those who are looking to fully understand the language, only learning with this game won’t be enough. Lastly, as already hinted above, it is possible to set the mini-games as “Homework” so you can simply enjoy the story without playing the Esperanto segments, as well as enable a translation for the whole game. However, you must complete the game at least once before this feature becomes available.
Throughout the game, there are decisions available, which will help you learn Esperanto as well. There are three different main endings available, with one true ending which might differ a little bit depending on your decision. Although the endings only change the very outcome of the story, I found each of them very fitting and none felt unnecessary nor illogical. That being said, I could definitely relate with every ending, although some endings really tore my heart out, wanting me to play through it again immediately afterwards to achieve a, hopefully, more happy ending.
Something I noticed immediately is that the artwork is gorgeous in The Expression Amrilato and it also offers a lot of cute CGs which will make your heart melt. The special thing here is that even Rin has her own sprite despite being the protagonist, which is quite rare in visual novels, especially if they contain romance. Additionally, the soundtracks are really good and unlockable as well in the menu, as well as the CGs. When playing through an ending, all available CGs get unlocked which only made me more eager to be able to experience the other endings as well. That way, you also know which end you already achieved and which one is still missing.
The Expression Amrilato definitely shows that it is possible to make a pure and sweet Yuri game, combining education at the same time. Although Yuri and education are its main genres, it still thematises a lot of sensitive but current topics which are still a problem nowadays in the real world. I found it a little bit sad that the supernatural things never actually get explained, but it’s only a minor issue I occurred and the sweet romance definitely made it up to me. That being said, The Expression Amrilato is the perfect game if you want to get familiar to another uncommon language while being able to experience a heartwrenching story, with gorgeous artwork, which you won’t easily forget.