The game’s nautical theme means a fair portion of playing time is spent traveling the high seas. Navigation is handled in a novel way, by plotting a path with the stylus and watching Link’s boat follow this hand-written course across open water and through archipelagos packed with people to meet and dungeons to explore.
Pre-defining the boat’s movement in this way enables you to concentrate on nautical combat, of which there’s a lot more than there was in Wind Waker. Upon encountering a creature from the deep or a rival vessel, it’s possible to draw a new course to circle the enemy, then stash the map back on the top screen and use the stylus to launch bombs. The landing points for some of the islands are guarded by mini-bosses that require exactly this sort of tactic.
Islands may harbor sub-quests, special items or small dungeons. The main objective is housed in a huge central dungeon that can be accessed from different points and requires multiple visits to unlock new parts - sort of like a puzzle-filled mini-overworld. The theme for the game is time - the hourglass seems to be the key to buying enough dungeon time to enable complete exploration.