Interactive fiction has a broader range of settings and themes than many other forms of fiction. In particular, the strange, esoteric, almost postmodern story is a recurring genre in interactive fiction; there aren’t a lot of other media in which those stories could be told. “+=x” is one of those stories, sketching out a future dystopia in which population control is handled by lot.
Gameplay: The game consists of several vignettes describing residents’ receiving their card for the lottery and its result. Tying the story together is a brief plot about a private investigator that resembles, even though he’s deliberately described only sparsely and enigmatically, the usual conflicted protagonist in a sci-fi dystopian work. The mysteriousness of the setting is compelling, and the author describes it well, leaving in just enough details to sketch out what’s going on. 6/10.
Mechanics: There’s very little for the player to do in the game; it’s more a randomized story than something with which the player can truly interact. Such interaction consists of dropping the lottery cards over certain keywords in the text, effectively starting the lottery and (blindly and at random) determining its result. From replaying the game, I don’t think there are any effects of the choices aside from picking which vignette to read. It’s a beautifully atmospheric work, but there’s little to do in it beyond just advancing to the next scene. 4/10.
Presentation: The text evokes the alien setting perfectly, and the card setup is a nice touch. 6/10.
You might be interested in this game if: You like its cryptic, elliptical style.