I love dependents but only when I get to choose to want them along. I usually do (I play “nice, team player” mostly), but if the option is taken away from me, I start being aware that the game is forcing decisions on me. And then I start resenting the game and the character on principle.
I like Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven for this-- I try to keep my husky and my nephew alive through playthroughs. But I also like the fact that it’s optional-- and thus, I could play without if the character wouldn’t own a dog. And I could play a character who thinks of their nephew as a burden.
Not that I play most of the “cruel” options on any game, but the fact that I can makes me more invested. I’m caring for these guys because A) I wanted them along and B) I genuinely want to take care of them.
Choice of Robots remains my favorite too, just because you get to make your robot. So once again, you can build whatever robot you want (within reason-- I’ve played it so many times and I still goof up to be honest), and whatever robot your character could want. So you could build a friend, or you could build a little servant, or a mindless drone.