I actually don’t have much of a preference. What matters more to me is how my character’s appearance is mentioned/used in the game. The more organic it is in descriptions, the more relevant to the lore or character interactions, the better.
Now, I know nothing about code, but I’m almost positive I’ve played games with if/then usage of descriptors. Like for hair, if=black, then=raven. That’s probably a terrible example, but if the effect of clicking boxes for long and black hair results in the game describing you in a scene with “flowing ebon tresses,” that feels immensely satisfying, like the game not only was listening to you but actually expanded on what you told it.
Conversely, if I select “long” and “black” and the game just spits those words back to me verbatim (e.g. “You brush your long black hair”), well, that usually feels pretty uninspired and kind of patronizing. Like the game is signaling to me that my choice is unimportant. Kind of the difference between having a conversation with someone and just shouting into a canyon to hear the echo. The second one can entertain you for a moment, but it doesn’t engage you in any meaningful way.
Does any of that make sense? I guess another example from the non-IF video game space would be most BioWare games compared to something like Cyberpunk 2077 or The Outer Worlds. When you create a character in a BioWare game, you see your character interact with the world and you see the world interact with them. The character you spent time creating is worked into cutscenes, they emote, they are very clearly there.
In Cyberpunk or The Outer Worlds, you only ever see your character in menus, and their faces are typically covered by helmets; I can’t remember what my own character looks like 15 minutes into the game, which feels really, really bad to me.
Having my character’s appearance come up semi-often, organically and in new and interesting ways…that’s the unicorn for me. Definitely much harder to implement, but well worth the effort (for me, anyway.)