I totally agree with you about the friction in Gameplay. It's always a problem when trying to take a genre in a new direction. But it's still wort it and hopefully players will find the good things.
When it comes to localization. I find that word count often isn't a great measurement of how much work is required. I usually check how many instances of text there are. Are the text stored in the folder with json files? I can take a look and estimate how much time it would take. When it comes to puns etc I have a lot of experience. In addition to films I have adapted lyrics and other texts (fiction and non fiction) as a part of my linguistics education. And localizing things like idioms are half the fun.
But the most important question is how much effort it takes to adapt the code. And if you say the code isn't really made for multiple languages at the backend. Because if it's to much of a hassle for you guys it's not worth the effort. I have a limited knowledge when it comes to programming so that is not something I can determine.