The Witcher 3 has 200+ keys and a mouse for control, yet Geralt can't move right, left, forward or back properly, with a fighting system that is a mess. Comparatively Phantom Hour Glass essentially uses one key, a pen, yet remains almost unanimously intuitive.
While the Witcher 3 tried to be grand, it ignored the fundamentals. Zelda on the other hand, has always put the fundamentals are the forefront and Phantom Hour Glass is arguably proof that pen driven games are just a viable as traditional controls when implemented properly.
It's not all rosy though, in it's attempts to be creative and challenge the player it can lead to the occasional obtuse puzzle requiring what is tantamount to clairvoyance. This can lead to frustrating, not through the difficulty in the puzzle itself, but in method of explanation. It's not a huge problem, only happening once or twice, but it is a problem none the less.
Combat also is ridiculously easy. While control wise it works perfectly, even before upgrading the character there is almost no chance of death through opponents, which has been a long running issue with the series, no difficulty mode, or continuation of the Master Quest mod.
The story is typical "ancient evil", one thing leads on from another, with quirky characters after quirky character lining up, it's entertaining and simple, doing the job without being obnoxious as so many modern games are. Simple, single lines of text propel the player admirably.
Visuals are great, but prickly due to lack of anti-aliasing, even with the reduced screen-size, it's espcailly noticeable during the boat sections.
Probably the biggest issue, is the Ocean Temple. This needs replayed multiple times. It is puzzle based, so once you've figured it out, that's that. It becomes a case of monotonous repetition that feels like work than fun. Enemies become augmented and additional unlocks create short-cuts, but it doesn't alleviate the problem.
Exploration is enjoyable and rewarding, with the usual mini-game distractions. The boat sections never feel padded out like Ubisofts Assasins Creed 4/Rogue, feeding crumbs to keep the player invested but never overstaying it's welcome.
Zelda is alright. I guess.