it’s such a basic rule of videogames to like… foster any kind of relationship with a player to a character by having the player have the ability to interact with the character in some responsive way.

the simplest way this is done is by having the character be /useful/ and /active/ for at least one crucial stage with the player.

just allowing bare minimum skin customization with/without naming can still lead to even pet-type characters being abrasive if they don’t do anything interactive. at worst, being seen as obstacles. to avoid this, you can give them an interaction. can they be picked up? can the player choose to give them items for some kind of reaction? does this thing /do/ anything?

this is especially crucial to work out if the writing calls for the player to have formed a bond with the character for there to be a response to the story twist. did the really cool, really useful, knight who joined you and helped you get out of a dungeon just betray you to some other team? did the character who always followed you and helped you get hidden items get hurt real bad and now a story related item is harder to find? did the cat you gave a name tag to and travel with disappear after some ruffians came to town?

of course, not everyone bonds in the same way with anything, but making a character likable and worth fighting for is different than telling someone they should like them and fight for them.